Saudi Arabia’s rapidly expanding Telfaz11 Studios has announced the genre-bending epic “Al-Gaid” (working title), set to be the first feature to go into production under its exclusive nine-picture deal with Neom, the sprawling production hub in Saudi’s northwestern corner.
Set against the backdrop of the 19th-century wintery northern Arabian desert, “Al-Gaid” is penned by Saudi novelist and writer Ahmed Alhokail and blends the revenge genre with Bedouin soap opera tropes, “crafting a unique narrative tailored for an Arab audience,” according to a Telfaz11 statement. “Rooted in an authentic Saudi perspective, ‘Al-Gaid’ aims to revolutionize the landscape of Saudi epic films.”
Besides being a writer, Alhokail is head of content at Saudi Research and Media Group SRMG. His literary works include a short story collection titled “Home,” featuring tales set in Saudi during the 1970s and 1980s.
“Al-Gaid” will be the first feature film directed by Saudi’s Hussam Alhulwah, who has produced and directed TV movies for MBC and Saudi TV and made several shorts through Riyadh’s Talashi Film collective.
“We are thrilled to reveal ‘Al-Gaid’ as the first installment of our 2024 slate,” said Alaa Faden, CEO of Telfaz11, in the statement. “This project not only reflects our commitment to pushing creative boundaries, but also emphasizes the richness of storytelling in Saudi.”
“Al-Gaid” is now in pre-production with casting underway and plans for cameras to start rolling in Neom in 2024. The landmark deal between Telfaz11 and Neom, which will see the creation of up to nine television and film productions over the next three years, was announced last June (execs are pictured above).
Other projects hosted and supported by Neom over the past couple of years include Rupert Wyatt’s $150 million Hollywood epic “Desert Warrior,” starring Anthony Mackie and Sir Ben Kingsley, and Bollywood blockbuster “Dunki,” directed by Rajkumar Hirani and starring Shahrukh Khan. It has also served as the location for “Rise of the Witches,” a 10-part adaptation of a famous Saudi fantasy book series that marks the region’s biggest-budget TV series ever, produced by Middle East powerhouse broadcaster and streamer MBC.
Telfaz11’s recent slate includes record-breaking Saudi box office hit “Sattar” and bold comedy “Mandoob,” about a distraught delivery app driver in Riyadh who becomes a bootleg alcohol dealer. “Mandoob,” which marks the directorial debut of Saudi director Ali Kalthami, had its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and will now be launching into the Middle East from the Red Sea Festival before hitting local theaters on Dec. 14.
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