Lola Arabia and Dubai’s Charisma Group are readying Agustí Villaronga’s “Arabian Aroma” and Pau Miró’s “Lost Symphony,” the first two titles in a 12-pic production alliance unveiled during the Berlin. Festival
Both movies are in pre-production, budgeted around $6 million and feature women “who passionately set themselves on a mission,” the partners announced. The films will be in English and Arabic, and are scheduled to roll around fall 2022. They target both international audiences and, as their local market, the Gulf states.
Reteaming Lola Arabia head Andrés Vicente Gómez and the two main creatives behind “Born a King,” a big period drama which scored heavily at Saudi Arabian cinema theaters, “Arabian Aroma” is penned by British scriptwriter Henry Fitzherbert.
It turns on Virginia, a British perfumer in her 70s who has lost her sense of smell. She sets out with her assistant, Basmah, a twentysomething Saudi, on a quest to follow the footsteps of travel writer Barbara Toy, who travelled the ancient Incense Route in the 1960s. It proves life changing,
The film will shoot in London and along the Red Sea coast, taking in many landscapes and rich archaeological sites from the Gulf region unknown even to locals, Charisma and Lola announced Sunday.
“Lost Symphony,” also written by Spanish playwright Miró, follows Mariam, a Spanish cellist, who arrives in Jeddah to lead the first female orchestra in Saudi Arabia. The dramatic comedy will shoot mainly in Jeddah and Jordan.
The United Arab Emirates label of Oscar-winning Spanish producer Gómez (“Belle Epoque”), Lola Arabia and Charisma, producer of “Manahi,” the first Saudi movie to be shown in public, aim to make movies in the $2 million-$40 million range, revolving around the present and history of West Asia, they say.
Development has begun on the whole slate. “Although in principle we plan projects with modest budgets, these will be increased in the following year once we find the rights partners outside the Gulf states,” Gómez said.
“The reopening of Saudi cinemas led to a dramatic change within the local production industry, one that we intend to accompany through the offering of movies with high production value and locally relevant stories,” Ayman Al Ziyoud, also Charisma Group president, told Variety.