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Jordan is raising its cash back rebate for film and TV productions from 20% to 25% after recently hosting Disney’s ‘Aladdin,’ “Star Wars IX, The Rise of Skywalker,” and the Denis Villeneuve-directed “Dune” reboot.Concurrently, the kingdom, which provides one of the few stable environments for filmmaking in the Middle East, has reinstated the Jordan Film Fund for projects with at least half of the dialogue in Arabic, and is launching a film festival with an industry component.On May 13, the Jordanian capital of Amman’s Prime Cinemas multiplex hosted the Middle East premiere of “Aladdin,” paying tribute to the fact that the live-action Disney pic was partly shot in the kingdom’s majestic Wadi Rum rock formations, in 2017, with some 150 Jordanian crew and extras working on the production. Director Guy Ritchie and the cast: Will Smith, Naomi Scott and Mena Massoud (pictured) were all in attendance.Ritchie on that occasion praised both the local landscape, which has long been luring Hollywood productions, and the production services.The latest production with Hollywood ties to shoot in Jordan is Netflix’s first Arabic-language original, “Djinn” produced for the streaming giant by Beirut-based Kabreet Productions. Netflix will drop the coming-of-age teen drama with supernatural elements in early June.
The Royal Film Commission of Jordan is now stepping its effort to lure more shoots, but also to create a well-rounded filmmaking ecosystem to foster more local fare. Besides raising the cash-back rebate to 25%, they are increasing its cap to $2 million and have negotiated competitive prices with the Jordanian army that is sometimes called to help with productions.
The minimum spend to be eligible for cash rebate is currently $1 million. But they are looking to reduce this to allow lower budget local films to benefit from the incentive.
Meanwhile the first edition of the Amman International Film Festival is set to launch April 13-18 2020, with Palestinian filmmaker and festival organizer Hanna Atallah – founder and chief of FilmLab:Palestine – on board as artistic director and the RFC’s Nada Doumani set as managing director.
Jordan’s new ambitious international fest will have an industry section run by Jordanian film producer and screenwriter Deema Azaar.