"Captain Abu Raed": Too Many Dreams! By Lotfi Ben Khelifa

in 53rd Valladolid International Film Festival

by Lotfi Ben Khelifa

With his first long feature Captain Abu Raed, the Jordanian director Amin Matalqa tells a simple fable using the most important details of these kinds of films. But when we know that film production in this country is at the beginning, we are sure that the result will not be a miracle. This film seems to affirm this idea, because we see the first steps of using the camera, the plans and the directions actors.

But on another side, we can have another lecture of Captain Abu Raed because we have an opposition between childhood and the old life. This opposition is really a meeting between unrealized dreams of an old man and a group of children. They will fly together in dreams and indirectly to see the world. Each one has his dreams to fly like a plane. The old man Captain Abu Raed works as janitor at Amman’s International Airport. His neighborhood children believe him to be an airline pilot. This friendship will have problems because the children know that Abu Raed lies! The dreams of the old man continue because he always wants to change the world by trying to resolve the problems of his neighbors: boys, families, the girl who works as an air hostess. This is a special world with a small atmosphere for this lonely man who has read many important books, especially about the big travels.

The rhythm of narration in the film is very heavy just as in the dramatic situations lived by the characters. The music by the Hollander composer Austin Wintory gives a lyric ambiance to this story. Is it for children? Or is it for all people? There is an enigmatic genre of films that allow us to think about the screenplay situation in Arabic countries. This one is not following the rhythm of the evolution of the life in these countries. It is an amalgam between literature and the screenplay. The search for the aesthetic in filming is totally absent! These long telefilms are only a first step in realizing the production of feature films for this director who made fourteen short films since 2003. With five years’ experience, his style is attached by classical narration without surprising his public. The Jordanian cinema, with the birth of new directors, can provide new expressions and ideas for the future. Captain Abu Raed is a long but modest film made by a director who has studied cinema in the USA. The end of the film is opened like a sky with the dreams included and narrated. An invitation to think and meditate about the choice’s life gives when we haven’t had many choices in our life. We want to change but only in our imagination! The word ‘politics’ does not exist in the film. Indirectly, the director tries to say many things about his country and his society’s life, but stay at the same place, on the same spot. The conservative politics it represents is seemingly underlined, but is it really?