A destroyed town in Syria is “playing” Yemen in a Chinese patriotic blockbuster project
The ruins of a former Islamic State bastion in Syria will be “playing” the role of Yemen in a blockbuster produced by a popular Chinese actor, martial artist and filmmaker Jackie Chan, AFP reported on Sunday.
The action film ‘Home Operation’ depicts the 2015 large-scale emergency operation which saw hundreds of Chinese nationals as well as some foreigners evacuated from Yemen, which hides in the script behind a fictional name, ‘Poman.’
“It takes the perspective of diplomats who are Communist Party members, who braved a hail of bullets in a war-torn country and safely brought all Chinese compatriots onto the country’s warship unscathed,” director Yinxi Song told reporters.
As Yemen was found to be too dangerous for filming, the ghost town of Hajar-al-Aswad has been chosen as one of the set locations.
VIDEO: A ghost town since a 2018 Syrian operation to flush out jihadists, Hajar al-Aswad found new purpose as the setting for a Jackie Chan-produced action movie. “Home Operation” is inspired by China’s evacuation of Chinese and other foreign citizens from the war in Yemen. pic.twitter.com/7uIImkSKCY
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) July 18, 2022
A densely populated Damascus suburb prior to 2011, Hajar-al-Aswad became one of the Islamic State group’s strongholds later, when a civil war erupted in the country. It was liberated by Syrian pro-government forces in 2018. Over all those years the town was almost destroyed and has remained largely uninhabited ever since.
However, sites like this are apparently facing a renaissance of sorts as they became popular among film producers from the countries that have kept good relations with the Syrian government. “Building studios similar to these areas is very expensive, so these areas are considered as low-cost studios,” Rawad Shahin, a film director and a member of the ‘Home Operation’ crew explained to reporters, as quoted by AFP.
As the film is believed to be the first Chinese movie to be shot in Syria, Beijing’s ambassador to the country was present at the launch of the filming. Jackie Chan, however, is not expected to come to the country, despite being the executive producer of the project.
Though Hajar-al-Aswad is just one of many filming locations, along with other places in Syria, in Lebanon, UAE and other Arab countries, its choice as a set for a Chinese blockbuster has prompted mixed reaction on social media: some users criticized Chinese cinematographers for cynical usage of war-torn places for “propaganda” purposes, while others hailed the international efforts that breathe new life into such sites.