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‘Yacoubian’ director plans follow up

'Ibrahim' set in Cairo slums

CANNES — Marwan Hamed will follow up his debut “The Yacoubian Building” with “Ibrahim the White,” the dark story of an Egyptian boy and girl who grow up on the gang-infested streets of downtown Cairo.

Script is based on real-life events with major plot points and characters taken from newspaper stories.

Budget is in region of $3 million and is set to start lensing by the end of the year. Egyptian shingle Good News Group, which backed “Yacoubian,” is again providing coin. Rising Arab thesp Hend Sabri is confirmed for one of the lead roles.

Hamed, whose “Yacoubian” was the biggest-grossing Arab pic of 2006 as well as the most controversial with its depictions of fundamentalism, corruption and homosexuality.

He expects to earn the ire of conservatives in Egypt once again with the graphic feature.

“It’s a very violent love story set in the place where most Egyptians live but where the others don’t even know about,” said Hamed. “It’s a very shocking film.”

Hamed will lense majority of the pic on specially built sets. Filming on Cairo streets will be too precarious given the violent nature of so many of the scenes.

“Yacoubian” has been picked up for U.K. distribution by ICA Projects, the film distribution arm of London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts. Pic will be released toward the end of the year.

Hamed has already lined up his post-“Ibrahim” project by acquiring the rights to “Children of the Alley” and “The Harafish” by Egypt’s Nobel Prize-winning author Naguib Mahfouz. Helmer plans to mix live action and animation a la “300” for his adaptation.

Good News Group is earning a reputation for hot potato subjects. Adel Imam-starrer “Morgan a Morgan” — about endemic corruption in Egyptian society — is in post-production and set for a summer release in Egypt. Lensing is also set to start on $5 million project “The Baby Doll Night.” Pic is about an Egyptian business exec who gets caught up in a terrorist plot.

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