Egypt’s Film Clinic, the production company known for its wide range of fresh Arab film and TV fare, has forged a pact with Dubai-based private equity fund Fortress Capital Investments Group to launch Fortress Film Clinic in Dubai.
The move not only opens up new opportunities for Arab directors, but also potentially for English-language projects, and certainly for international co-productions with the Arab world.
Fortress Film Clinic, which will produce, develop and distribute a slate of film and TV projects in the Arab and international markets, marks the first film venture of this type set up between an oil-rich fund in the UAE, where the film industry is in its infancy, and Egypt, which has a storied cinematic past and churns out most of the region’s movies despite the country’s turbulence and financial woes.
Up until now oil money investments in movies have been mostly in Hollywood product.
The fund’s starting capital is close to $25 million, which is not peanuts, considering that budgets in the Arab world are much lower than in the U.S.
Current plan is to produce five or six films per year over the next two years.
The new joint venture “should become a pretty big player in the region,” said Film Clinic topper Mohamed Hefzy (pictured) who noted that roughly 60% of the resources will go to making “quality films that can travel,” while a portion of the remainder will be invested on TV content, including “Ramadan-type TV series.”
Fortress Film Clinic’s first two titles seem to have those elements.
One is “Arab Idol,” by Oscar-nommed Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad (“Paradise Now,” “Omar”). It’s the true inspirational tale of how “Arab Idol” winner Mohammed Assaf became a golden boy from Gaza. The other is Gaza-set dramedy “Catch the Moon,” by Palestinian director Sameh Zoabi, about a young Palestinian named Halim whose father whimsically commits to providing him and his future bride a Mercedes Benz as dowry, only to realize it’s impossible due to the current Israeli blockade.
Hefzy added that Fortress Film Clinic’s focus will not be limited “just to production.” It will also venture into various other media ventures that will be revealed at a later time.
Hamed Mokhtar, managing partner at Fortress Capital Investments, enthused about the new collaboration in a statement. “The vision we have is shared, and that is to create a Middle Eastern studio and production powerhouse focused on developing new talent, quality production and strong distribution throughout the Pan Arab region and beyond.”
A slate distribution partnership with a prominent Middle East distributor will be announced soon.