A new movie that was hailed as a groundbreaking film for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) film industry disappeared from the line-up at commercial theaters in December. That movie is called Djinn and tells the story of “An Emirati couple return home from a trip and discover that their new apartment has been built on a site that is home to some malevolent beings.”
Of course, I’m eager to see this film. It’s more research for me, accompanied by popcorn. I’d love to see a popular cinematic interpretation of the jinn. But it’s not to be. My mind runs right to supernatural sabotage. But that’s just my fiction imagination in overdrive….or is it? According to this article in The Guardian, the more likely reason is that UAE royal family found the film objectionable because of certain politically subversive messages. Here’s the reasoning in The Guardian article:
Then Djinn vanished. It didn’t appear at the Dubai film festival, where it had been offered a red-carpet premiere. Promised spring and summer 2012 release dates came and went. It was puzzling: shooting on the story – a Rosemary’s Baby-esque spooker set in a fishing village redevelopment in Ras al-Khaimah – was nearly a year back; post-production almost six months gone.
After Djinn’s Cannes launch in 2010 hailing the country’s entry into the commercial fast-lane and the early rash of publicity in government-sponsored publications, the silence was deafening. With Hooper’s imprimatur and an intriguing collision of modern genre thrills and traditional Arabic culture, Djinn had the potential finally to bring global attention to the fledgling UAE film scene ; “a much-awaited film for all our distributors around the world”, Fortissimo, Image Nation’s international sales agent, was saying. But come the end of the year, more tumbleweed.
Shortly after the London screening, an Italian website, Moviesushi, printed a possible reason for Djinn’s disappearance. According to a source on the production: “Someone close to Abu Dhabi’s royal family has seen the movie and does not appreciate its portrayal of the UAE, and considers the movie to be politically subversive.” The old suspicion surrounding the Emirati industry had risen again: that it was too tightly supervised from above (usually through the National Media Council censorship body) to blossom freely.
This excuse is immediately countered. Other views contend that the Arab Spring heightened Arab pride to the point where there would be little interest in a Western-packaged take on cultural legends. Who really knows? An actual genie might.
The latest news says that Djinn will be released in 2013. We’ll see. I’m rubbing my lamp and waiting for the popcorn to pop.
Meanwhile, another film called Djinn was released in 2008 that tells the story of a beautiful woman who is snatched by a genie and must be rescued by her true love who must cross the “three valleys of the Black Desert” to save her. I saw it. It’s okay. For a better story, I think you should pick up The Genie Ignites. ; )
What Would You Wish For?