Middle East distributor Front Row Filmed Entertainment is following up on the phenomenal success of its first major co-production, the Arabic language remake of Perfect Strangers, which topped Netflix charts around the world when it was launched in January (and sparked noisy controversy in Egypt).
The fast-rising company has joined the set of producers behind the satirical coming-of-age comedy Abdelinho, from French-Moroccan filmmaker Hicham Ayouch (Fevers) and starring Palestinian star Ali Suliman (Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Terrence Malick’s The Last Planet, Huda’s Salon). Front Row will also distribute the film in the Middle East and North Africa. International sales are being handled by Parisian outfit Urban Sales, which will be taking the film to Cannes.
Produced and directed by Ayouch and co-produced by Canal + International, Chadi Abdo’s Hecat (Oscar-nominated The Cave), FreeMonkeyz and Sihamou Productions, the story follows Abdelinho, a young Moroccan man who’s fascinated by everything that has to do with Brazil, to the point where he speaks the language fluently, dances the samba regularly and is head over heals in love with Maria, a telenovelas heroine. However, his world is turned upside down when an ultra-conservative televangelist arrives.
“We’re proud to be joining such a team. Hicham is an innate storyteller with an understanding of the region’s reality, but also its massive potential.” said Front Row CEO Gianluca Chakra. “Abdelinho is a unique film that underscores how fanaticism can limit dreams and creativity, to the point of debilitating societies. Ultimately the film injects positivity and hope within our cultures here, something which we always strive for particularly in the Middle-East. Given our position in the market, we will do everything possible to get this film out and be seen by as many eyeballs we can reach.”
Ayouch’s fourth feature, Abdelinho was one of the buzziest works-in-progress at the Red Sea Souk project market in Saudi Arabia at the end of 2021. It is currently in post-production and aiming to be ready by the end of the year.
“Abdelinho is a comedy and a contemporary tale, with a strong message about the importance of living your dreams and being free,” said Ayouch. “We will follow the journey of a character who will have to fight his society, just to be himself. I hope this film will create passionate and constructive discussions in the Arab World regarding how we deal with people’s differences and freedom of conscience. I’m very happy to collaborate with Front Row whose enthusiasm about Abdelinho is wonderful, they fell in love with the film, and I’m sure they’ll do a fantastic job.”