Dubai-based distributor and producer Front Row Filmed Entertainment has acquired Middle East and North Africa (MENA) rights to British-Palestinian filmmaker Basil Khalil’s action-packed drama “A Gaza Weekend” ahead of its regional premiere at Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival.
Front Row, which is a prominent distributor of indie films in MENA region, picked up “Gaza Weekend” from London-based sales and production outfit Protagonist Pictures after it premiered positively at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
Made by British-Emirati producer Amina Dasmal and Robin C. Fox, who executive produced, “Gaza Weekend” is set in a world where Israel is sealed off after a deadly virus outbreak and Gaza has become the safest spot in the region. British journalist (Stephen Mangan) and his Israeli girlfriend (Mouna Hawa) 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. Palestinian actors Adam Bakri and Maria Zreik also star.
The film marks the third collaboration between Khalil and Front Row, which previously distributed his Oscar-nominated short “Ave Maria”, which debuted in Cannes in 2015 and recently boarded “Nour Shams,” a short by Saudi filmmaker Faiza Ambah produced by Khalil.
Front Row previously curated the “Palestinian Stories” collection for Netflix, as well as a list of 44 contemporary and classic Arabic titles including the works of top Arab filmmakers such as Youssef Chahine, Maroun Baghdadi, Nadine Labaki and many more. The company also produced the Arabic adaptation of “Perfect Strangers,” which was released in early 2022 and has been a massive hit.
“‘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.”
Said Khalil: “I am thrilled to be partnering with Front Row on “A Gaza Weekend.” He added: “We made a bold and unapologetic in-your-face crowdpleaser 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.”