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Karim Debbagh’s Kasbah Films Lines Up ‘Cherry,’ ‘The Forgiven,’ ‘Kidnapped’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Tapping into Morocco’s recently launched 20% rebate, Karim Debbagh’s leading Tangier-based line producer Kasbah Films already has three major international productions in the pipeline for 2020. These include “Cherry” with Tom Holland, “The Forgiven” with Ralph Fiennes, and a big-budget South Korean film “Kidnapped.”

“Cherry” is an American crime drama film directed by Anthony and Joe Russo and is based on Nico Walker’s novel. The film stars Tom Holland as an Iraq war veteran who returns home suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder and starts robbing banks. “Cherry” will begin shooting later this month across Moroccan locations such as Ouarzazate and the Erfoud desert for scenes set in Iraq.

“The Forgiven” is a British movie that will be directed by John Michael McDonagh and is an adaptation of the novel by Lawrence Osborne about the impact of a tragic accident on the lives of an English couple attending a lavish weekend party at a luxurious desert villa in Morocco. The film will star Ralph Fiennes, Caleb Landry. Jessica Chastain is in negotiations to join the cast. Debbagh said the preparation for the shoot will begin in February.

“Kidnapped,” meanwhile, is an ambitious South Korean film which will be directed by Seong-hun Kim about the true story of South Korean hostages captured by the Hezbollah in Lebanon in the 80s. The movie will start shooting in Morocco in April for 15 weeks.

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The local tax incentive which kicked off last year thanks to the lobbying efforts of the Moroccan cinema center, allows international productions to benefit from a 20% rebate on eligible expenses made in Morocco. Debbagh said Morocco has seen the number of big shoots increase tremendously within the last year and is expecting to see the volume of those foreign productions triple in 2020. The line producer said the tax rebate has also led producers to extend the duration of shoots and increase expenses made in the country from $2 million to $5 million, to $7 million to $15 million.

Kasbah Films was the first line production banner to benefit from the Moroccan tax incentive with “Mosul,” Matthew Michael Carnahan’s thriller about a police unit battling to reclaim the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS. The film world premiered at Venice. The well-established company also line produced “Men in Black: International,” which lensed in Morocco in 21 days with a massive crew including 1,000 people on some days, said Debbagh.

Debbagh just wrapped a three-week shoot of Terrence Malick’s “The Last Planet,” which he described as a highly spiritual film about the Bible with a dark genre twist. Debbagh said working with Malick was a “unique experience.” He added that the film was lensed only with natural daylight. Besides Morocco, the film also shot in Israel, Malta, Turkey and Iceland, among other locations.

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