For the past three weeks, media outlets have issued reports referring to what they say is the “banning” of the Jordanian narrative feature “Blessed Benefit”, by Mahmoud Al Massad, from theatrical release in Jordan. Most news and reports quoted Al Massad and members of his team about this issue. The Royal Film Commission – Jordan (RFC) was mentioned several times, often erroneously. Hence the need for the following clarifications with regard to the RFC’s role.
The RFC is a public institution with financial and administrative autonomy, whose mission is to facilitate film shoot in Jordan, provide training in filmmaking and organize non-commercial film screenings all over the Kingdom. The RFC gives particular attention to local audio-visual production.
According to the law, any film due to be showcased in a commercial theater has to get prior approval from the Media Commission. The Media Commission has full authority and autonomy to do so. This procedure is also applied in countries where freedom of expression is staunchly protected.
It is worth mentioning that shooting a movie in Jordan doesn’t entitle it to be screened afterwards in theaters. And the fact that the RFC supports a production doesn’t necessarily mean it will get the approval to be released theatrically in the country. There is no contradiction in that, as long as the process is clear from the beginning to all filmmakers, whether Jordanians or foreigners.
The RFC supported “Blessed Benefit” by granting it financial funding through the Jordan Film Fund (which was suspended in 2013), facilitated its shoot and organized a non-commercial screening for the movie. The RFC has offered similar support to several other Jordanian productions and filmmakers. Our professional relations with Al Massad are not new, since we screened all his previous documentaries and he has worked several times as a trainer for the RFC’s workshops in the past few years.
Following the sole screening of “Blessed Benefit” organized by the RFC on the 6th of February, the director declared to various media outlets in Jordan and abroad that the Media Commission has barred his film from commercial release.
Based on our conviction that Jordanian cinema needs encouragement, we contacted the management of the Media Commission. The reply was clear: the director has not filed any official request to show his film, and therefore there has been no official decision to ban it.
The Royal Film Commission - Jordan wishes to emphasize that this statement comes as a reaction to several misleading reports regarding its role, and out of concern that inaccurate information would risk having a negative impact on Jordanian cinema, including the film mentioned above. We would appreciate if anyone reporting on this issue takes our clarifications into account.
For more information, please call: Marian Nakho, tel: 06-4642266/ Ext. 23
About The Royal Film Commission:
The Royal Film Commission – Jordan (RFC) is a public institution, with administrative and financial autonomy, established in 2003 with a mandate to promote for and contribute to the development of an internationally competitive Jordanian audio-visual industry. The RFC organises training workshops, screenings and provides production support services.