DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Prominent Egyptian independent producer Mohamed Hefzy’s Film Clinic has come on board as a co-producer of Egyptian-Austrian filmmaker Abu Bakr Shawky’s upcoming feature film “Yomeddine,” a road movie about a middle-aged man raised in a leper colony who embarks with a sidekick and a donkey on a journey across Egypt to try and reconnect with his family.
A long-gestating passion project which is now in post, “Yomeddine” is Shawky’s feature film debut and stems from his short “The Colony” that chronicles tales of the residents of the Abu Zaabal leper colony in Egypt.
Shawky, who studied political science and filmmaking in Cairo, is an alumn of NYU’s graduate film program.
The pic’s protagonist, named Beshay, is played by Rady Gamal a non-professional actor who suffers from leprosy and is a resident of the leper colony. According to “Yomeddine” promotional materials Beshay leaves the confines of the leper colony for the first time and takes a bold journey with an orphan boy named Obama and his donkey across Egypt to find the family that abandoned him as a child.
“You get to see a lot of interesting characters that are real people,” said Hefzy, speaking at the Dubai Film Festival market. He noted that “there are hardly any professional actors” in the film.
The pic, which draws on stories the director heard while filming his documentary, will mark the first film with a protagonist suffering from leprosy who gets a chance “to be defined by his humanity, not his disease,” according to Shawky’s directors’ statement.
Beshay’s plight “is treated in a light-hearted manner,” highlighting “his spirit in the face of misery – a universal trait of Egyptians as a whole,” the director also underlined.
“Yomeddine” recently won the works-in-progress nod at the El-Gouna festival’s Cinegouna Platform, which is where Hefzy saw it. It is produced by American-Egyptian producer Dina Emam and supported by now defunct Sanad development fund and the Tribeca Film Institute, among other institutions.
Hefzy said Film Clinic was helping with post and is trying to get “Yomeddine” “a really good festival premiere in 2018.”
Recent Film Clinic titles include “Clash,” which opened the 2016 Un Certain Regard in Cannes, and “Sheikh Jackson,” which launched from Toronto in September.