Shows like Jinn help challenge cultural norms

Gianluca Chakra, MD, Front Row Filmed Entertainment makes a case for shows like Jinn, that despite coming under heavy criticism from sections in Jordan, are a positive for Middle East productions
The first season of Jinn stirred a bit of controversy from some sections in Jordan.
Ahmad BlaiblehNetflix
The first season of Jinn stirred a bit of controversy from some sections in Jordan.

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Netflix Arabic original Jinn came under heavy criticism mainly for the language used and physically intimate scenes.

Gianluca Chakra, managing director, Front Row Filmed Entertainment told DS ME: “In this case you had people in Jordan, where the show is based, offended. There is a level of cultural hypocrisy, which will fade away. Eventually, it [audiences accepting cultural truths] will happen. The more controversy you have, the more viewers you will have because of the curiosity factor.”

Chakra also noted that generalising the Arab world’s need for local content is a huge mistake and Chakra says the Middle East is comprised of 350 million people with different cultures and dialects.

He added that Arab audiences are accepting of international remakes, which means an Arab version of Game of Thrones might do well in this market. “It’s about pushing the envelope, a ‘sword-and-sandals’ series could work well because you want the controversy and physical dilemmas [in Arab productions]. [Audience acceptance] is going to take some time because we are going to have to fight the culture. But it doesn’t need to be a fight, it’s about changing mind sets,” says Chakra, who is half Lebanese and Italian.

“There is a definite need [for Arabic content] and I feel there is going to be a surge in content from the Gulf. Films being made locally have been few in the past. In terms of formats we are beginning to see a lot of what is made in Europe, the US and Asia being acquired for adoption in the Middle East — Arab X-Factor, Arab’s Got Talent to name a few,” he adds.

Read the full interview in the August issue of Digital Studio Middle East.

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