Abu Dhabi: Egyptian Helmer Develops Pic on Terrorist Cult

Groundbreaking Egyptian helmer Marwan Hamed (“The Yacoubian Building”) whose latest pic, “The Blue Elephant,” is breaking box office records in Egypt, has plans for a timely pic titled “Assassins,” about Hassan-i-Sabbah, the charismatic 11th century leader whose followers smoked hash and assassinated political rivals. His cult is considered the forerunner of Al Qaeda and Isis.

“The similarities between this man and his sect, called hashashins, and Taliban terrorist groups today are very interesting,” said Hamed (pictured). “They were suicide killers, and they were Islamic suicide killers. Anyone who wants to understand Isis should learn about this guy.”

Best-selling Egyptian novelist Ahmed Mourad, who wrote the eponymous novel from which “The Blue Elephant” is adapted, has penned the script for “Assassins,” which Hamed is developing via his Al Shorouk shingle, which he co-founded in 2007 with Fadi Fahim.

Hamed has also teamed up with Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy on another project, immigration drama “Children of the Sea,” which is set in Egypt and Italy. This pic is also in development stage.

“It follows the journey of a guy from a village close to Cairo until he reaches Italy,” said Hamed.” “But it’s not about documenting the trip as much as it’s about trying to find out the human story behind it, and what leads this guy to do all this.”

“Children” marks the first collaboration between Hamed and Hefzy, whose Film Clinic is Egypt’s top indie shingle.

“The Blue Elephant,” a thriller with supernatural elements, is about a psychotherapist working in a mental ward at a penitentiary where he meets an old friend who has been convicted of killing his wife. Attempting to unravel the mysteries of his friend, the shrink embarks on a journey exploring his inner self and delves into worlds of magic, sorcery, psychiatry and drug addiction.

“Elephant,” which stars Karim Abdelaziz, has broken the 32 million Egyptian punds ($4.5 million) mark after eight weeks in release at the Egyptian box office, which is massive for Egypt, considering the pic is not a comedy.

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