'Sea Shadow' mixes known and fresh talent

ABU DHABI — Imagenation, Abu Dhabi’s $1 billion production arm, has cast its first local project “Sea Shadow,” which includes a mix of known and untapped Emirati talent.

The coming-of-age pic, helmed by Nawaf Al-Janahi, stars Ayesha Abdul Rahman, Hasan Rajab, Bilal Abdullah, Ali Al Jabiri, Ahmad Iraj and Ahmad Al Jasmi, along with Omar AlMulla and Abrar Al Hama.

A slew of new thesps who auditioned for the pic via Imagenation’s emiratifilmstar.com website — the banner’s online platform to source local talent — were also cast in the pic, including Nevan Madi, who takes up a lead role.

Story, penned by Mohamed Hassan Ahmed, follows the lives of two teenagers who feel stifled by the traditions and local culture in their Emirati neighborhood and embark upon a journey of self-discovery through the UAE.

Pic is produced by Daniela Tully and Rami Yasin, and exec produced by Edward Borgerding and Stefan Brunner, all from Imagenation.

Mohammed Mubarak Al Mazrouei also has an executive producer credit on the pic, which begins principal photography Thursday.

Announcement comes in conjunction with the day the Abu Dhabi Film Festival unspools and as the Circle Conference is underway here in the Emirate.

Pic, which reps the first local project from Imagenation, is timely and topical. Speaking Wednesday at the Circle confab, experts from around the globe including Ali Jaafar, exec director of Quinta’s independent film division, “Paranormal Activity” producer Jason Blum and ARTE’s Remi Burah, urged delegates to focus on local and regional production in order to build the core foundations needed to make global impact.

“You can’t accelerate to global before you build locally,” said Jaafar. “Focus should be given to developing a local market and building a collaboration between regional and local films.”

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