Captain Abu Raed, playing at Sundance next week, is the
product both of one man's drive to become a filmmaker, and of
the people in a part of the world whose stories ache to be told.
Just shy of his 32nd birthday, Amin Matalqa has already left one
financially rewarding career and is now on the cusp of a whole
new kind of success.
"I studied Business Marketing at Ohio State University, but
my video camera never left my shoulder." After four years in
telecommunications, Amin decided to change course and moved to
Los Angeles where he made short films, wrote screenplays and,
after three years, was accepted into the Directing MFA program
at the American Film Institute. "All of that was just
preparation for what I really wanted to do: make features."
Amin Matalqa's first film is set in Jordan and tells the
story of Abu Raed, a janitor at the airport in Amman. The
children in his neighborhood believe he is a pilot. Abu Raed
humors them with made-up stories of his travels but is soon
drawn into the painful realities of these youngsters' lives.
"The kids who played these roles were not trained actors, and
ten of the twelve are from orphan centers (they have mothers but
no fathers) in refugee camps," explained Amin. "We auditioned
over 200 children for these roles and found truly gifted
performers. They are the story-behind-the-story in this film."