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Prominent film distributor MAD Solutions has taken pan-Arab rights to abortion-themed Yemeni drama “The Burdened” (“Al Murhaqoon”), which is among works-in-progress presented at Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Souk project market.

Produced and directed by Amr Gamal, “The Burdened” scooped an award among works-in-progress at the industry section of the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival in July. 

The story, written by Gamal and Mazen Refaat, centers on Ahmed, Isra’a and their three children in Aden, Yemen, in 2019. It is based on true events experienced by the director with one of his close friends. Due to the country’s economic crisis both parents lose their jobs. The drama starts with Isra’a finding out about her fourth pregnancy at a time when they cannot cover the expenses of a new child, leading them to make difficult decisions, amid their community’s conservative stance, in order to survive.

“Burdened” will be Gamal’s sophomore feature following his 2018 debut “10 Days Before the Wedding,” a dramedy about obstacles caused by the 2015 war in Yemen that stand in the way of a young couple getting married. This was Yemen’s first locally produced film in years and became a hit with local audiences.

The project, now in post, brings together Yemen, Sudan and Saudi Arabia in a landmark co-production. “The Burdened” stars Khaled Hamdan, Abeer Mohammed, Samah Alamrani and Awsam Abdulrahman.

“I was fortunate to be able to work on the film with a diverse range of nationalities in addition to the Yemeni crew,” Gamal said in a statement. “I had the privilege of collaborating with actors and producers from Sudan, Egypt, India, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the Czech Republic, the U.K. and Taiwan,” the director added, noting that the pic “Is a modest dream of young people from Aden that culminated in a film shared by filmmakers from all over the world, and the dream is still ongoing.”

This cosmopolitan blend of talents involved was part of the appeal for MAD Solutions. “We are so delighted to have acquired the distribution rights to this ground-breaking and heart-rending story,” said the company’s co-founders Alaa Karkouti and Maher Diab. “It is perfectly attuned to the company’s philosophy of aggressively seeking out filmmakers with significant creative potential and projects that link diverse cultures,” they added.

“The Burdened” is co-produced by Mohsen Alkhalifi, Mohammed Alomda and Amjad Abu Alala, the Sudanese filmmaker who helmed multi-award-winning drama “You Will Die at Twenty,” which in 2020 was Sudan’s first-ever Oscars submission.

Headquartered in Cairo, and with offices in the UAE, Portugal and New York, MAD Solutions is a leading global distributor of Arab-language films and also runs one of the top promotional agencies and management companies for Arab creative talent. 

Since 2021 they have distributed more than 100 film titles, two-thirds of them features, across the Arab-speaking world and in international markets.