×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Abu Dhabi: Empire Will Release ‘From A to B’ in the Middle East

Pan-Arab film distributor Empire Intl. will release Abu Dhabi fest opener “From A to B,” by Ali Mostafa, in the Middle East, starting on Jan. 1.

Empire has a close rapport with “A to B” co-financer Image Nation, having successfully released Image Nation-produced chiller “Djinn,” by Tobe Hooper, in 2013.

The Lebanese company sub-distributes for both Sony and Twentieth Century Fox across the Arab world.

Young Emirati director Mostafa has broken new ground with “From A to B,” a pan-Arab road movie in which three Western-educated youths from different Arab countries travel 1,500 miles from Abu Dhabi to Beirut, amid the region’s turbulence, in memory of their deceased best friend.

Mostafa spoke to Variety‘s Nick Vivarelli about the challenges of getting the tone right.

Q: You’ve taken a typical Hollywood genre, the road movie, and transposed it to an Arab setting. Was that difficult?

A: I love road films. I always wanted to make one. So coming up with the journey was the part that I really needed to think about. I thought: what would be something that could be really unique for the Arab world? Instead of having Emiratis as protagonists, I thought: Why don’t I depict Arab nationalities who grew up in Abu Dhabi? Also, they are Western-educated Arabs who went to an American school. I wanted to make something that was very relatable for the Arab world, but at the same time also for the West, who could watch these guys and understand them. In terms of the route itself, Abu Dhabi has become such a modern place, so when they go to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, the change is drastic both geographically and culturally. This makes it interesting. I wanted to end it in Beirut because it’s a place that’s dear to my heart, and also a great party town.

Q: There is a strong pan-Arab element to the film. How important was this?

A: My goal, as self-righteous as this may sound, is to help create a film industry here in the Emirates. So it was very important for me to see that we can venture out. To have Egyptian and Lebanese producers and a pan-Arab cast who can support it. I’m very glad that we were able to achieve that.

Q: From a production standpoint, working with Image Nation is the closest thing in this region to working for a Hollywood studio. As a director, this can mean some constraints. How was it for you?

A: For my first movie, “City of Life” I had all the freedom in the world because I raised the financing myself. This time coming in knowing that I would have to go through approvals of everything was quite daunting at first. I wondered if it would affect my creativity. But it turned out to be the complete opposite. I could not have been happier to have such a cool team back me in the right way. When decisions were made, they were made constructively. There was always a discussion. To have that experience with guys, who are obviously very experienced, was a huge blessing.

Q: What’s next?

A: My first film was an ensemble piece drama; for my second film I wanted to tap into a genre which is very difficult: comedy, but not pure comedy. For the third one, I’m looking forward to making a horror/thriller type movie. Something completely out of my comfort zone.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Parasite

    Bong Joon-ho's 'Parasite' Wins Best Film at Asia Pacific Screen Awards

    Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite,” which earlier this year won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, on Thursday added the Asia Pacific Screen Award for best film to its burgeoning trophy cabinet. “Parasite” producer Jang Young-hwan was on hand to accept the award at the end of a ritzy ceremony in Brisbane, Australia. The APSAs, [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 6

    British Directors Guild Issues Guidelines for Filming Nudity and Simulated Sex

    Directors UK, the professional guild for screen directors in Britain, has launched guidelines for directing nude and simulated sex scenes to prevent unprofessional conduct in film and TV. Described as the “first of their kind in the U.K.,” the new guidelines “are born of the need to set clear and shared professional expectations that apply [...]

  • People attend the opening ceremony of

    Korean Festival Selectors Resign Over Programming Independence Complaint

    Three programmers who have headed the Jeonju International Film Festival, South Korea’s second largest festival, resigned en masse on Tuesday. They say they are protesting the encroachment on their independence by the board of directors and city authorities. The three – Kim Young-jin, Lee Sang-yong and Jang Byeong-won – have led the Jeonju film festival [...]

  • Yuni Hadi

    Singapore Film Festival to Reflect South East Asian Spirit of Cooperation

    Yuni Hadi, executive director of the Singapore International Film Festival, says South East Asian cinema contains exciting talent. And that the way forward involves cooperation with the video streaming platforms. What have been the high and low points of the cinematic year for Southeast Asian cinema? “There are some amazing short films and documentaries that [...]

  • Adele Haenel Adèle Haenel

    Accusations Against Roman Polanski, Other Filmmakers Propel #MeToo in France

    When the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke two years ago, the news was mostly met in France with a Gallic shrug. Screen icon Catherine Deneuve even denounced the #MeToo movement as creating a “totalitarian” environment. But bombshell accusations this month from actors Adèle Haenel and Valentine Monnier may finally have turned the tide in the local film [...]

  • Peppa Pig

    U.K. Competition Watchdog to Examine Hasbro's $4 Billion Deal for Entertainment One

    Britain’s competition watchdog will investigate Hasbro’s $4 billion takeover of Entertainment One. The Competition and Markets Authority said Thursday that it would examine whether the intended acquisition of eOne would result in a “substantial lessening of competition” under U.K. rules. The CMA was deeply involved in scrutinizing the sale of Sky, which was ultimately bought [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content