Country has first-ever pavilion at Cannes

Jordan, which is at Cannes with its first-ever pavilion, is joining the Mideast film gold rush with a number of projects and initiatives designed to bolster the country’s film biz.

Paramount-DreamWorks has inked with the Jordanian Royal Film Commission to film “Transformers 2” in the country and Fox has scouted locations in the country for its bigscreen “The A-Team.” It is believed to be in discussions for the action pic to lense there.

Jordan had a banner year attracting foreign productions to film in the country last year, among them Nick Broomfield’s “Battle for Haditha,” Brian De Palma’s “Redacted” and Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker.”

Execs from the country, which shares borders with Iraq, Israel, Syria and Saudi Arabia, also is planning a Jordan Film Festival, skedded to launch next year.

“We might be the only Arab country that doesn’t have a festival,” Nada Doumani, the RFC’s culture advisor, told Variety. “We need to find a framework that works specifically for Jordan and act as a platform to support further Jordanian filmmaking.”

Jordanian execs are trying to build a studio in the country to bolster both local and international production. A site has been agreed upon in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba, near the University of Southern California’s Mideast film school the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts, which opens this fall. RFC execs are working to raise the funds for the studio.

To provide coin for a culture fund, Jordan’s parliament and Senate passed a law April 30 that will levy a 5% tax on ads in print, radio, TV and outdoor, in addition to a further 2% tax on license fees for radio stations and satcasters. Some of that coin will be used to set up a film fund in the country next year.

While not in the megabucks league of the $500 million feature fund agreed by Abu Dhabi and Warner Bros., Jordan’s fund, initially set to be in the mid-seven figures, will likely help boost local and regional filmmakers.

Jordan’s first feature in 50 years, “Captain Abu Raed,” won the world audience award at Sundance this year and has generated considerable international sales interest. Pic sales agent Fortissimo is in advanced negotiations for a U.S. and U.K. deal for the pic.

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