Egyptian shingle the Good News Group is venturing where no film company has dared to before by tackling 70 years of East-West relations, including the Holocaust, the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Sept. 11 attacks, all in one film.
“The Baby Doll Night,” which starts lensing Sept. 22 in Egypt, tells the story of an Egyptian tourism official who has spent a year in New York seeking medical aid to rectify a problem preventing him from making love with his wife. Flying back to Cairo for New Year’s Eve along with an American-French delegation, the beleaguered man’s attempts to make whoopee with his wife are repeatedly interrupted by characters representing a litany of cross-cultural grievances.
“This crazy night in Cairo becomes a face-off between East and West, as well as each side fighting amongst themselves,” says the project’s exec producer and helmer Adel Adeeb. “It’s the first time Arab cinema has tackled the Holocaust and 9/11 and everything in between.”
Adeeb’s father, Abdel Hay (“Cairo Station”), who died in June following a career spanning 60 years and 122 pics, wrote the screenplay.
Pic, which at $5.5 million boasts the biggest-ever budget for an Arab feature, has a pan-Arab cast with thesps from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Tunisia and Lebanon. Project will lense in Cairo, New York and Washington, plus the Czech Republic, Turkey and Syria.
Good News execs have tapped regular Roman Polanski collaborator Daniel Champagnon (“The Pianist”; “Oliver Twist”) as line producer and Hong Manley as d.p. Pic’s score will be recorded at London’s Abbey Road studio with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Special effects for “Baby Doll” will be handled by f/x labs in Canada and France, while producers are bringing in a stunt team from South Africa to assist with the continent-hopping shoot.
Controversy is no stranger to the Good News Group. In 2006, it produced the controversial “Yacoubian Building,” the biggest-grossing film of the year at the Egyptian box office .
“It’s 10 times bigger than ‘Yacoubian’ in terms of cast and ambition,” Adeeb says. “It’s a human comedy based on the hot political issues between East and West. It’s the first time a movie attempts to put all these things on the table at the same time.”