Cairo-based film marketing and distribution outfit MAD Solutions has taken an equity ownership stake in New York’s revived arthouse distributor D Street Releasing.
The partnership will extend the reach of MAD Solutions’ theatrical distribution operations, giving it an inroad into the U.S. arthouse sector where so far Arab cinema has been largely reliant on festival exposure.
MAD Solutions, which is a top distributor of specialty Arab cinema across the West Asia region, now plans to release between five and seven standout titles from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Arabic-speaking countries to North American audiences.
D Street Releasing, which has been largely dormant in recent years, is a division of D Street Media Group, the New York-based production, distribution and music publishing company with affiliate operations in the U.S., Germany, Ecuador, Argentina and South Africa.
MAD co-founders Alaa Karkouti and Maher Diab met D Street’s founding CEO Dexter Davis and partner Silvana Santamaria at last year’s inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and started talks that led to the deal for them to take an unspecified stake in D Street Releasing.
“After taking a break from the theatrical distribution business, I’m extremely excited about this reboot with visionary partners Alaa and Maher, who both bring with them a wealth of regional experience, creative connections and marketing knowledge to the company,” Davis said in a statement.
“This historic partnership will give U.S. audiences the opportunity to understand better our Arab brothers and sisters through powerful stories. Breaking stereotypes and prejudices is a key part of our mandate and with the support and resources from MAD Solutions, I believe we can achieve that goal,” he added.
The newly relaunched D Street Releasing has already acquired five titles to be released stateside theatrically in 2022.
These include Jordanian director Zaid Abu Hamdan’s female empowerment drama “Daughters of Abdulrahman”; Egyptian comedy “Barra El Manhag,” by Amr Salama; and Tunisian social drama “Streams” by by Mehdi Hmili.
“It’s a thrill to be based in Egypt and be able to gain an important foothold in the American distribution marketplace through D Street Releasing,” said MAD Solutions CEO Alaa Karkouti.
“We’ve learned so much operating and growing MAD Solutions and believe we can draw on that accumulated experienced and honed skill sets to advance the agenda Dexter and Silvana have for acquiring content from the Arab world, especially the exciting voices now coming from Saudi,” he added.
Both Karkouti and Diab will join the D Street Releasing board. Also involved in the strategic plans for the new partnership will be New York-based media analyst Colin Brown, who is an international managing partner at MAD Solutions.
At this year’s Cannes, MAD Solutions is premiering Tunisian feature “Under The Fig Trees,” directed by Erige Sehiri, in Directors’ Fortnight. They are also the outfit behind the Arab Cinema Center umbrella group that has a stand in the Palais.