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Special from Arthur Hagopian
Jerusalem of gold, Jerusalem of light.
The very name scorches the lips, "like the kiss of a seraph," its stones golden in the sun, the "flower of the cities of the world."
Ofra Haza sang of it as a solitary city with the scent of pines, and Feyrouz trilled millions with her lament, but for all of us, Jerusalem has always, and will always be, the center of the world.
It has been said of this extraordinary city that of the ten portions of beauty God gave the world, He reserved nine for Jerusalem. And of the ten portions of sorrow He bestowed upon this planet, Jerusalem's gift numbered nine.
Throughout the millennia, people of all faiths have celebrated Jerusalem in song and dance, prose and poetry.
Tens of thousands of books have been written about this troubled patch which has metamorphosed into the spiritual fount of the world's three great monotheistic religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
Its story has been documented in countless films and theatrical productions, but while the books and films have probed almost every tangible aspect of the city's undying allure, none has so far ventured to portray it in the one untried visually astounding medium of IMAX 3D.
Until now.
For the first time in its illustrious history, Jerusalem will come alive once more in an ambitious 3D visual reproduction.
But the high-tech production envisaged is no mere commercial enterprise aimed primarily at boosting bank balances. The 3D IMAX project, tailored for giant 22x16 meter screens, breaks new ground with its determination to present a new form of celebrating the world's most famous and most loved city.
The film is a co-production of Cosmic Picture (New York) and Arcane Pictures (London), with Jerusalem-based Highlight Films providing local backup and expertise and managing the stage.
The producers, Taran Davies, George Duffield and Daniel Ferguson, see the project as a "multi-year, multi-component project with a compendium of educational materials and an outreach campaign designed to strengthen the impact and message of the IMAX film."
They believe it will encourage "greater public understanding of Jerusalem’s extraordinary uniqueness: its universal cultural and religious significance, the richness of its artistic and archaeological treasures, and the surprising diversity of its inhabitants."
And, hopefully, it will help bridge the gap between Jews, Christians and Muslims, promoting "engagement" between these three great Abrahamic faiths on a historic scale, building trust and respect among them by "showcasing their common heritage" and inspiring them, and the public, to better understand each other’s beliefs and practices.
The producers are confident the project will support scientific and historical literacy by "exploring the various means through which we study and learn about Jerusalem: important eyewitness accounts, ancient maps and mosaics, manuscripts, early photographs and the latest archaeological research will help expose the multiple layers of Jerusalem’s past and the ongoing process of discovery."
"The film will promote collaboration between leaders of the Semitic religions in Jerusalem and use the immersive nature of IMAX 3D to allow people of all faiths to experience other people’s rituals, Holy Days and sacred sites," they say.
Production costs are reported to top US$10 million, with investment in the film coming from a variety of international sources eager to promote appreciation and understanding of Jerusalem, as well as science and education.
Over the past two years, the production team has been busy laying plans, writing the script, visiting Jerusalem to establish contacts and touching base with researchers and key players in the story, and setting up the apparatus necessary to streamline the production process.
They have interviewed some of the world's greatest minds in archaeology, theology, jurisprudence, law, politics and history and signed up a score of consultants. They have also met visited all the key sites of archaeological interest in and around Jerusalem.
Shooting is scheduled for 2012, and the film is expected to be released sometime in the fall of 2013.
With the talents of this vast panoply of chroniclers, archivists and researchers, from both local and overseas institutions, the producers are confident JERUSALEM IMAX 3D will more than meet their expectations.
Already, Davies and Ferguson's collaboration on the IMAX film "Journey to Mecca" (which catalogued Ibn Battuta's first epic pilgrimage to Islam's holy site) has won international acclaim and made cinematographic history, while Duffield's recently released "The End of The Line," an educational film about over-fishing, was hailed by Greenpeace to have accomplished more on the subject of over-fishing in three weeks than they achieved in ten years through traditional outreach.
Unlike television and feature-length films, IMAX films have a long shelf life, playing at theatres for 5-10 years and often longer. Some of the most successful titles in the IMAX® library made twenty to even thirty years ago are still playing in theatres today.
The film team plans to employ approximately 200-500 Israelis and Palestinians on the film over two years of filming as researchers, advisors, technicians, costumers, construction workers, drivers, security personnel, translators, artists, musicians, extras, caterers, pilots, and designers.
What is it that makes Jerusalem "tick?"
This is where history is said to have begun. Indeed, every tile in its Old City's cobblestoned streets, has a tale to tell, to regale you with stories of glory and grandeur, and a litany of devastation and despair, and ultimately, triumph. For Jerusalem has earned the dubious distinction of being the perennial battleground of the nations, an Armageddon designation that has eclipsed the more sublime mantle of spirituality it has been clothed with.
You pass through its half dozen portals, and walk in the footsteps of the prophets, the conquerors, the poets and the dreamers, the builders and destroyers, and you wonder, what is it that makes Jerusalem so unique and evokes such a plethora of feelings in one's consciousness?
It would be impossible to pinpoint a single aspect of Jerusalem's ambience, except to remember that there is a universal conviction that Jerusalem does not belong only to Arabs, Jews, or Christians: it belongs to the world.
It is, beyond doubt, the city's special mark of distinction as a fount of spirituality that is the lodestone for the millions of people from around the world who come here, seeking solace in the misty embrace of incense and warm glow of candle, leaving their prayers in cracks in a wall, or keeping midnight vigil in expectation of the opening of the gates of heaven.
It is not possible to talk of Jerusalem except in superlatives.
Jerusalem is not a city. It is an experience.
"Although its back alleys are filthy, the crowds noisy and pushy, the merchants importunate, and sometimes downright mendacious, all is forgotten and forgiven when you stand before the majestic Western Wall, climb up to the golden Dome of the Rock, or wonder at the mysterious ladder at foot of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher," one researcher and long-time resident muses.
"And when you sit down to a plate of "musabbaha" (hummus with chickpea and parsley) or munch on a hot crunchy falafel or partake of the mouth-watering sweet "kenafeh" (a filodough pastry with sweetened cheese in rose water with a garnish of pistachios), you get a sense of the tendrils of affection the world feels for what could have been a demi-paradise."
"And then, despite the intifadas, the house-demolitions, and the relentless wrangle of politicians and generals, you meet its amiable and friendly people in the street, and get a taste of the gaucho camaraderie of Christian, Jew and Moslem alike, and you realize this is a people who know the meaning of real and lasting friendship."
This is the story of Jerusalem. It has been told over and over again, through various genres, and media, but never as breathtakingly stunning as three-dimensioned IMAX.
(For a preview of what the finished film will look like, watch the trailer at
Pix caption: Aerial view of Jerusalem, courtesy JERUSALEM IMAX 3D

Artur Hagopian

Il sito è curato dall'Arch. Vahé Vartanian e dal Dott. Enzo Mainardi;
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