Hajar al-Aswad in Syria, a city recently flooded with terrorists, is now being flooded by lights — production lights.
Once a hotspot of ISIS activity, the Syrian city, located four kilometers south of Damascus, is now a shooting ground for a Jackie Chan-produced movie called Home Operation. The rest of the film will be shot in other Middle East countries, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
What is the movie about?
Home Operation is inspired by China’s evacuation of hundreds of Chinese citizens and foreign nationals from war-torn Yemen in 2015. The production team deemed Yemen — which has been wrecked by a civil war since 2014 — too dangerous to film in, so they chose to shoot certain scenes in Syria instead.
Hajar al-Aswad, once a populous Damasus suburb, is now mostly vacant and its infrastructure has been left largely leveled and broken. The Syrian Armed Forces, led by Syria’s President Marshal Bashar al-Assad, captured Hajar al Aswad from ISIS in 2018.
"The war-ravaged areas in Syria have turned into a movie studio. These areas attract film producers," said director Rawad Shahin, according to the Times of India, a Mumbai-based English-Indian daily.
"Building studios similar to these areas is very expensive, so these areas are considered as low-cost studios," Shahin said, according to the Times.
What's the problem?
The film is generating controversy for its decision to film in Hajar al-Aswad and for the content of its film.
"The Chinese fascist regime is an ally of Syria, and they are trying to whitewash their crimes in actions like this. The Chinese who came and filmed this movie should respect the Syrians whose homes were bombed and destroyed, leading to many Syrians becoming displaced,” chided Syrian journalist Fared al-Mahlool, according to Livenewsamerica.com.
A Twitter user called “RealSyria” had a more positive take on the filming of the movie; he thanked “the great actor Jackie Chan for his stand with Syria and Yemen.” RealSyria's bio states that they are “Pro Assadist/Putin/SAA/Axis of Resistance."
The content of the film has also been a point of contention online.
Twitter User “Byron Wan” commented that viewers should “Brace for hours of massive CCP (Chinese Communist Party) propaganda in ‘Home Operation’, a movie — produced by CCP shill Jackie Chan — that glorifies China’s 2015 evacuation of Chinese and other foreign citizens from the war in Yemen.”
The film is being directed by Song Yinxi who spoke with Digital Studio ME in October about how the movie is aiming to strengthen China-United Arab Emirates (UAE) film collaborations.
“I am delighted to attend the formal launching, for the production of the film will take place in the UAE and involve the film sectors from both countries,” said Dr. Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri, the UAE’s ambassador to China, according to the report.
At the launch of the Syria shoot, a large red banner reading out “Peace & Love” was attached to the back of a tank on set.