In the southern parts of Jordan bordering the Red Sea, perched on the city of Aqaba is the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts. This is a special graduate school focusing on productions and art forms involving the silver and TV screen, and it is perhaps among the best of its kind in the world today, despite its relative youth. The inauguration of the institute was in September of 2008, but it has already made a name for itself in terms of the quality of its education and faculty as well as through the garnering of various awards by both staff and students, with at least one faculty member being part of an Academy Award-winning sound team (Baha Othman of the Sound Department, for his work in the film Hurt Locker) and several students winning honours in the prestigious Nowrooz Hamghadam film festival.
The institute offers a terminal degree, the Master of Fine Arts in Cinematic Arts, and is perhaps the first to do so in the region. Its very origins are fascinating: it all began when Steven Spielberg met the present king of Jordan in the late 1980’s during his filming of Indiana Jones 3 in the archaeological site of Petra. One could not have imagined that the acquaintance of the two men would eventually lead to the creation of the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts or RSICA, which would from the outset also be associated with the School of Cinematic Arts in one of the most well-known universities for arts in the world: the University of Southern California. Spielberg was the one who introduced the king to the dean of the School of Cinematic Arts from that university, and a contract was struck up for cooperative work between the institute in Jordan and the University of Southern California’s equivalent school. This was how the institute came to be.
The school’s logo is of red waves (supposedly to reference Aqaba and the Red Sea), and calls to mind the shutter of a camera or a film reel. It is said that the numerous images and symbolic references that the logo suggests to the viewer are all in keeping with the emphasis on depth and symbolism in the arts, an emphasis the school tends to promote. The school caters mainly to Middle Eastern students and ones from Northern Egypt, but it does accept international students. The admissions are typically from the months of November to May and may be conducted via email, the form being on the website at www.rsica.edu.jo.
The Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts is definitely worth a visit if you are at all interested in cinematic arts or television production and education on those topics. The RSICA building is at Al-Rashid Street in Aqaba. Take note that there is actually an Amman branch being used as the headquarters for various organisational purposes including admissions and payments already: the branch in Aqaba (which was established first) is still being used, though, primarily for actual educational and practical purposes.