MK2 Films, the banner behind Joachim Trier’s Oscar-nominated “The Worst Person in the World,” has boarded “Nezouh,” from Syrian director Soudade Kaadan.
The drama, set against the backdrop of the conflict in Damascus, marks Kaadan’s follow up to her 2018 feature debut, “The Day I Lost My Shadow,” which won the Lion of the Future prize at Venice. Her 2019 short “Aziza,” meanwhile, won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize.
Co-financed by BFI, which awarded National Lottery funding, and Film4, “Nezouh” is an allegorical tale of female emancipation.
The movie follows 14-year-old Zeina and her family, whose lives are shaken after a bomb rips a giant hole in the roof of their building, exposing them to the outside world. One day, a young boy living nearby lowers a rope through the opening and Zeina discovers her first taste of freedom. Whilst her father is determined to stay in his home and not become a refugee, this new window opens up an unimaginable world of possibilities to her and her mother, who now face a dilemma of whether to stay or leave.
“We are thrilled to be working with Soudade Kaadan, whose rich metaphorical voice brings a new perspective to the Syrian conflict. Through the eyes of one family, we experience not only the frustrations and fears of living in a besieged city, but the hopes and dreams of a teenage girl looking to the future, and the resolve of a proud patriarch who refuses to give in to the fate of becoming a refugee”, says Fionnuala Jamison, managing director of MK2 Films.
MK2 Films has acquired international sales rights to the film and is introducing it this week at the European Film Market.
The film is inspired by Kaadan’s own experience. The helmer said “Nezouh” is the Arabic word for “displacement of souls, water and people.” “It is the displacement of light and darkness. ‘Nezouh’ tries to talk about this inevitable invasion of light and hope in the midst of this chaos,” Soudade said.
“Nezouh” won the Arte Kino Prize and participated in the Atelier at the Cannes Film Festival, where it picked up the Sorfond Prize. Kaadan’s project was also developed at the Cannes’ Cinefondation in 2019 and won the Baumi Award for script development a year before.
The film is headlined by newcomer Hala Zein, who stars alongside Kinda Alloush, Samer Al Masri and Nizar Alani. The key crew includes DPs Hélène Louvart (“Happy as Lazzaro,” “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” “Murina,” “Pina”) and Burak Kanbir (“The International”).
Now in post, “Nezouh” is produced by Berkeley Media Group and Zajal Prods., in association with Ex Nihilo. Producers are Kaadan, Yu-Fai Suen and Marc Bordure. Besides the BFI and Film4, the movie is co-financed by Stars Collective. Executive producers are Lizzie Francke for the BFI, Ben Coren, Farhana Bhula and Daniel Battsek for Film4 and Donna Gigliotti and Peter Luo for Stars Collective.
Distribution partners on board include Pyramide Distribution in France, as well as pay TV groups Canal Plus and Cine Plus and the outfit MAD Solutions.
MK2 Films is presenting two films in competition at the Berlinale: Mikhaël Hers’ “The Passengers of the Night” and Carla Simón’s “Alcarràs.”