DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An innovative incubator for Arab movies is being launched by Cairo-based marketing and distribution company Mad Solutions at the Dubai Film Market where footage of eight hotly anticipated projects from the region will unspool.
Called Arab Cinema Lab, the new initiative for film development and financing will be a mix of sneak peeks and keynote presentations from leading industry figures focussed on “fast-tracking a sustainable, self-sufficient ecosystem for Arab filmmakers,” says Mad Solutions CEO Alaa Karkouti.
Projects set to be showcased on December 12 at the Arena Theatre in Madinat Jumeirah, the fest’s main venue, include “Sheikh Jackson,” about an Egyptian Islamic fundamentalist cleric with a secret passion for the music of Michael Jackson, directed by Amr Salama, known for Aids drama “Asmaa” and black comedy “Excuse my French”; Palestinian auteur Rashid Masharawi’s “Writing on Snow,” on the roots of different sub-groups in Palestinian society and how these divisions contribute to religious extremism; big-budget thriller “Man of the Impossible,” based on a bestseller about an Egyptian super spy, Egypt’s attempt to emulate James Bond; and soccer-themed “Shoot,” by Saudi director Aymen Khouja, produced under his Khoja Bros production shingle and touted as the first Saudi-U.S. film.
Besides Karkouti, other speakers will comprise: Mohamed Hefzy, who heads Egypt’s leading indie Film Clinic; Gianluca Chakra, chief of Dubai-based distributor Front Row Filmed Entertainment; Jacques Kruger, general manager of the VOX Cinemas chain; Vincenzo Bugno, manager of the Berlinale’s World Cinema Fund Project; and Frank Albers Film Prize Program Officer at Germany’s Robert Bosch Stiftung foundation.
“Like the best laboratories, Arab Cinema Lab has been designed as both a testing ground and launch-pad for what’s next,” says Colin Brown, managing partner and director of international operations at MAD Solutions. “When you examine the risk/reward profile for Arab feature films on a macro level you see a golden opportunity for private financiers – if only there was a more user-friendly business environment through which to invest and lend with greater confidence.”
The initiative takes to the next level the work of the Arab Cinema Center launched last year by MAD Solutions as a promotional platform for Arab filmmakers at major festivals festivals and markets worldwide.