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Berlinale: Lebanon’s Abbout Prods. to Shoot First Arab Zombie TV Series (EXCLUSIVE)

Lebanese producer Georges Schouair’s Abbout Prods. is set to shoot groundbreaking skein “Ghoul,” touted as the first zombie TV series out of the Arab world.

The eight-episode skein, in which eight strangers from different corners of the Middle East face the outbreak of a zombie plague, has been developed by Abbout — which is among companies behind buzzy Berlin competition title “Félicité” — in tandem with the Beirut-based Cinemoz VOD platform, one of the fastest-growing VOD platforms in the Arab world. The plan is for “Ghoul” to be one of its signature original shows.

“The Arab world is not used to doing non-Ramadan TV series,” Schouair said. “It’s inundated by the soaps that play during that period,” he added, noting that “Ghoul” will target a younger audience segment in a region where two-thirds of the population is under 30.

The concept of the Arabic-language series is based on a mutating zombie virus that has different effects in different countries. “It’s a way of talking about political issues in these countries,” Schouair said.

The skein’s promotional materials underscore that “genre films have always been political, and especially the ones with zombies,” noting that George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” series “has given us an insight into American society.”

“Ghoul” will be directed by young Lebanese helmer Rami Kodeih, who has several prizewinning shorts and also the feature-length docu “Wheels of War” under his belt. The skein is written by Antoine Waked, a development exec at Abbout who is also director of Beirut’s Maskoon Fantastic Film Festival, which is the first genre movie film fest in the Arab world. Each of the eight episodes will be 26-minutes long, an innovative format especially for the region where TV shows run longer that an hour.

Two-thirds of the financing are now in place; the plan is to start shooting in Lebanon by next year.

“It’s taken us three years to write the scripts and do the storyboards, but I think we now have a good product,” said Schouair.

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