Ma3mal 612: The region’s powerhouse of art production, collaborative thinking

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(Photos: Handouts from Ma3mal 612)
AMMAN — Brought to life by founders Sawsan Darwaza and Ehab Al-Khatib, Ma3mal 612, a collaborative production house, is made up of a diverse group of Arab artists and figures of several disciplines: film producers, playwrights, designers, politicians, and technicians.اضافة اعلان

“We started dreaming of Ma3mal in 2008, before we ever had a name for it,” said Sawsan Darwaza in a recent interview with Jordan News. “The aim was to find an alternative way of production and this aim was rooted in the need to forsake the highly competitive environment of production. We wanted to do something where we can exchange ideas, think together, and create products that are collective while also having the stamp of the Ma3mal factory.”

(Photos: Handouts from Ma3mal 612)

According to Darwaza, the number 612 is a manifestation of the tale of the Little Prince’s Planet B612, his ideal planet. Ma3mal’s higher aim is to reach a place where everything is romantically ideal and people can connect organically with each other.

“We dreamt of a beautiful planet 612 where everything is beautiful, pure, and clear. It’s that type of purity and authentic way we tend to look at our projects. This innocence is one of the secrets that has to be maintained to keep our ma3mal a 612,” said Khatib. “Factories are rated according to their power. The power of our factory is in its ability to manufacture ideas."

(Photos: Handouts from Ma3mal 612)

Khatib added that the founders were motivated to breathe life into this project because there was a need for change in the production industry, and “if you don’t go to the field and work with people, your idea will always be just an idea. We wanted to offer people movies sans the propaganda, free of charge. This is the new production formula we wanted to establish.”
“If anyone has an idea, they become the thinker, the others become the workers,” said Darwaza of Ma3mal 162’s production strategy. “It all depends on who is leading the idea and the project.”

According to Khatib, “We also have responsibility towards the arts, where we develop our projects in the same mechanism and sense whether it is a play, film, or anything else.”

(Photos: Handouts from Ma3mal 612)

Ma3mal 612 faced different challenges yet managed to keep its pace and in Darwaza’s words — its innocence.

“Sustainability in and of itself is a challenge,” said Khatib. “But to be sustainable and consistent while maintaining the quality is a bigger challenge. It is no easy feat to present films of good quality without breaking or harming the society’s respect for arts.”

“We also have our eyes on the new generation at Ma3mal 612,” added Darwaza. “The youngsters should have the freedom to be creative, to be mobile. They deserve to have their own ideas and be mentored. They are not meant to stay hidden but to move and fly. Ma3mal has a large outreach program in schools and universities. It not only grows an audience but educates them as well, and so you grow together year by year.”

(Photos: Handouts from Ma3mal 612)

Ma3mal 612 works on myriad artistic projects including festivals, films, documentaries, and art installations, among others. Its projects keep with Ma3mal 612's goals of having pioneering people create art in a way that demonstrates their ability to positively influence others. The Karama Human Rights Film Festival, one of their projects, is the region’s first international human rights film festival, promoting human rights through film and inviting debate and facilitating democratic dialogue about human rights concerns since its first edition in 2010.

Karama’s 12th edition will be held from December 5 to 12 at the Royal Cultural Center. Karama’s annual themes alter each year to fit its surroundings. The theme for 2021 is "Human Rights in a Virtual World," which focuses on the present, as opposed to 2020’s theme, "Memory of Being," which focused on the past. There is more to Karama 12th than what meets the eye — film screenings include an award-winning project that is yet to be announced.

(Photos: Handouts from Ma3mal 612)

The Karama effect spread to other countries. With different Karama editions taking place in Mouritania, Palestine, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Yemen, Ma3mal 612 initiated ANHAR, the Arab Film Network for Human Rights Film Festivals — a platform that facilitates collaboration between film festivals and human rights advocates in the region. According to Darwaza and Khatib, Karama’s success stems from the way they position it and present it as human rights project but in a patriotic context.

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