MENA-based distributor and producer Front Row Filmed Entertainment has acquired MENA rights for British-Palestinian filmmaker Basil Khalil’s feature debut A Gaza Weekend, ahead of its regional premiere at the Red International Film Festival this December.
The acquisition marks the third collaboration between Khalil and Front Row, as the company previously distributed his 2015 Academy Award and Palme d’Or-nominated short Ave Maria, which debuted in Cannes in 2015 and has also recently boarded Nour Shams, a short film by Saudi filmmaker Faiza Ambah and produced by Khalil.
International sales on the film, which world premiered in Toronto in September, are handled by London-based sales and production company Protagonist Pictures. The feature is produced by U.K.-Emirati producer Amina Dasmal and executive produced by Robin C. Fox.
The comedy-drama is set in a world where Israel is sealed off after a deadly virus outbreak and Gaza has become the safest place in the region.
A British journalist (Stephen Mangan) and his Israeli girlfriend (Mouna Hawa) then find themselves stuck on the wrong side of the border, needing the help of two Palestinian street merchants who promise them a way out in exchange for cash. The film also stars Palestinian actors Adam Bakri and Maria Zreik.
Front Row has long been championing Arabic films globally for years, having previously curated the Palestinian Stories collection for Netflix.
“A Gaza Weekend is a terrific feature and one of the best films to come out of TIFF this year,” said Front Row CEO Gianluca Chakra. “It’s heartwarming to see Arabic films travel and be noticed at the highest level. We’re thrilled to be teaming up with Basil again and can’t wait for people in the Middle East to watch this absolute gem of a film.”
“I am thrilled to be partnering with Front Row on A Gaza Weekend,” said Khalil. “We made a bold and unapologetic in-your-face crowd pleaser and couldn’t think of a better partner in the Middle East who is just as bold, understands the film, and has such a wide reach in the region. I look forward to sharing our unique film with the public in the coming months.”
“After being a much talked about hit with festival goers and critics at TIFF, we’re so excited audiences in the Middle East will finally get to experience the hilarious gem that is A Gaza Weekend,” said Jonathan Walik, Protagonist’s Sales Manager.
A Gaza Weekend is set for a MENA release in 2023.