Saudi Arabia’s O3 Productions, part of broadcast giant MBC Group, has announced a partnership with UAE firm Image Nation Abu Dhabi to co-finance and co-produce four Saudi films.
The announcement comes as Saudi Arabia makes a historic first visit to the Cannes Film Festival, where it also revealed an incentives package aimed at attracting foreign productions, together with grants and education programs for Saudi filmmakers.
One of the films in the partnership is comedy tale Love Above the Law, written by Saudi YouTube star, comedian and actor Fahad Albutairi, who starred in Ali Mustafa’s From A to B. It will be directed by Emirati filmmaker Majid Al-Ansari, whose thriller film Zinzana accounts for one of Netflix’s major Arab-language acquisitions.
It follows a love story between a couple with different backgrounds, a middle-class Saudi man and a woman from the kingdom’s rural community, who discover they have a lot in common.
The first project under the partnership will be the adaptation of author Ibraheem Abbas’ best-selling novel sci-fi HWJN into an Arabic-language feature film, which will be co-produced and co-financed by the two companies.
03 Productions and Image Nation are also partnering on a television spin-off of the feature titled The Delusionists, as well as two further television series, details of which will be announced in due course.
“As 03, this project is a landmark one for us as we are embarking on an exciting journey into an innovative and fresh genre of Saudi drama based on a best seller novel and its exciting world created by the pioneer work of Yatakhayaloon team,” said Fadi Ismail, group director of 03 Productions.
“We are happy that we are not alone in such a venture but joined forces with Image Nation working closely with its team to produce what we hope will lead to a higher quality of captivating storytelling and production values in film and TV drama in this project and beyond.”
The four titles will be filmed in Saudi Arabia using local talent, starting 2019. A casting search is currently underway in Saudi Arabia for the film’s lead roles.