Chinese actor and producer Jackie Chan is facing heavy criticism for filming a movie in a Syrian town bombed by the country’s president.
Directed by Song Yinxi, “Home Operation” is inspired by the 2015 Chinese rescue missions in Yemen that evacuated hundreds of Chinese people. Photographs from the set show several Chinese crew members and actors working amongst the ruins of Hajar al-Aswad, a city that was destroyed in May 2018 after the Syrian regime reclaimed the city from the Islamic State.
Song explained the film’s intention as a way of praising the government for their part in rescuing thousands of Chinese citizens from Yemen during that time.
“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 on to the country’s warship unscathed,” Song told AFP.
The production company originally planned to film in Yemen; however, it was deemed too dangerous and set locations were moved to Syria. Filmmakers decided to use Hajar al-Aswad as it was a “low-cost” movie set.
“The war-ravaged areas in Syria have turned into a movie studio. These areas are slowly attracting film producers to shoot their films there. Building studios similar to these areas is very expensive; here the studio is already ready,” crew member Rawad Shahin told AFP.
Many have accused Chan of profiting off of war-stricken Syrians and benefiting the Syrian regime by helping the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad.
“The Chinese company and Jackie Chan are accomplices to the Syrian regime in whitewashing crimes,” one Syrian activist told The Telegraph.
“How can I see him filming actors while there are real people underground? Under this rubble that they are filming on there are still so many bodies, so many real people,” another Syrian activist, Abdulkafi Alhamdo, said.
“The Assad regime, in agreeing to this, is laughing at the Syrians it killed and expelled from their homes, and now it is profiteering from the cities and towns it destroyed,” Syrian journalist Fared Al Mahool was quoted as saying.
Chan purportedly has no plans to visit Syria.