Wide-Ranging Debut Slate Announced for Dubai-based MAD World, Arab Cinema’s First Global Sales Company

11 May 2024
CANNES, May 8, 2024: MAD Solutions, the Arab World’s largest independent film distribution studio and talent representation agency, has announced the launch of MAD World, Arab Cinema’s first global sales company.
Based in Dubai, MAD World will debut at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where it will handle the worldwide sales and international distribution of a slate of exciting new Arab-language feature films, operating out of the Arab Cinema Center stand within the Marché du Film.
MAD Solutions’ official move into international film sales builds on its success at last year’s Cannes Film Festival with the Sudanese Un Certain Regard title GOODBYE JULIA, which scored a raft of sales to territories including France, Benelux, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan and German- speaking territories. The company also enjoyed success last year with another Cannes festival title, the Directors’ Fortnight short film THE RED SEA MAKES ME WANNA CRY, which became the first Jordanian film ever sold to the MUBI global streaming platform. In addition to acquiring worldwide rights to more international co-productions, the Cairo-based studio has become increasingly involved in packaging Arabic projects with international market potential.
As well as offering brand new titles, MAD World will be handling sales on an extensive library of recent festival award-winners, documentary features, acclaimed shorts, back-catalog titles, and regional box office and streaming successes, many of which have not been seen by audiences outside the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The majority of these titles, including indie smash hit GOODBYE JULIA, were theatrically released across the Arabic-speaking world through MAD Distribution, the company’s distribution division that will remain focused on the MENA marketplace.
MAD WORLD will be spearheaded by MAD Solutions’ two Co-Founders, Alaa Karkouti and Maher Diab, as well as its third Managing Partner, Colin Brown. All will assume Co-President titles at MAD World, with Karkouti serving as CEO. Also joining MAD World are two European executives experienced in the international licensing arena. Edin De Liancourt, whose career has encompassed roles at Hasbro Studios, Allrites and Film Seekers, joins MAD World as Vice President, Sales & Acquisitions. Jeanne Deny, who assisted the sales teams at both SND/Groupe M6 and StudioCanal, joins as Director, Sales & Acquisitions.
MAD World’s team arrives at this year Cannes with more than a dozen titles, in various stages of production and completion, that are entirely new to the international licensing marketplace. Among them are unexpected narratives from Egypt, Tunisia, Palestine, Morocco, Iraq, Syria, Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia that span a multitude of storytelling tones and genres. Some of the newest additions to the MAD World slate will be announced shortly; already revealed titles include:

● THE RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL SON (Egypt/Tunisia/France) - the winner of the top project prize at the most recent Red Sea Souk, Rani Massalha’s film tells the story of an Egyptian pig farmer whose Coptic Christian community is thrown into turmoil during the swine flu epidemic that broke out during the Mubarak regime. In pre-production.

● THANK YOU FOR BANKING WITH US (Palestine/Germany/Qatar) - After making a splash with her documentary ICE & DUST, Palestinian filmmaker Laila Abbas returns with this female-empowerment drama about two sisters who concoct a scheme to divert their father’s inheritance in defiance of sexist bequeathal rules dictated by Sharia Law.

● THE LAST EXORCIST (Saudi Arabia) - Directed by award-winning Saudi writer Asim Altokhais, this horror feature is adapted from his own comic book about the battles of an exorcist to save a tribal leader’s kidnapped daughter from the clutches of the djinn underworld spirits in 1890 Saudi Arabia. In pre-production.

● BLUE CARD (Sudan) - From the visionary creators of YOU WILL DIE AT TWENTY and GOODBYE JULIA comes another tale of Sudanese resilience in the face of war and displacement. BLUE CARD follows a recently-settled Sudanese refugee attempting to make ends meet in a nursing home in Cairo until his application for asylum in Europe goes through. In pre- production.

● A BIRD FROM PARADISE (Tunisia) - An exploration of the at times comically bizarre practices surrounding Tunisian weddings from the perspective of an outsider, now in post-production. It is directed by Murad Ben Cheikh, whose debut feature documentary NO MORE FEAR was selected as a Special Screening at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

● YELLOW BUS (India/Jordan/UAE/US) - Wendy Bednarz’s completed — and already on the festival trail — feature narrative debut sheds light on the difficulties expats living in the UAE face in the wake of crises, following a mother shattered by grief in the aftermath of the loss of her daughter at the hands of her school’s gross negligence.

● LA ZONE (Tunisia/Germany/France/Luxembourg) - set in the murky underbelly of modern Tunisia, Lassaad Dkhili’s completed thriller follows a cop whose small-town life is turned upside down when a gangster’s girlfriend steals his gun.

● THE LAST REHEARSAL (Morocco) - Yassine Fennane’s completed drama lifts the curtain on both mental illness and show-business life. Tensions escalate when a stage director starts taking antidepressants ahead of the play's scheduled performance in front of a producer and a cultural manager from the French embassy.

● THIS IS MY NIGHT (Syria/UAE) - Written, directed, produced and acted by young Syrian talent Jafra Younes, this completed film tackles what it is like to lose security after the Syrian revolution - all shot in a single take.

● GIRL OF WIND (Tunisia) - transgression is a prevailing theme in Moufida Fedhila’s female-driven coming-of-age film which follows a veiled teenage skateboarder faced with making life-changing choices when her ex-jihadist father suddenly reappears. In pre-production.
Among the slate of recent festival discoveries are several documentaries including: DIARIES FROM LEBANON, which played in the Panorama section of this year’s Berlinale; HIDING SADDAM HUSSEIN; VOYAGE AGAINST TIME; THE GOLDEN HARVEST and THE LEBANESE BURGER MAFIA.
“With the creation of MAD World we have created a dedicated platform for exporting Arabic cinema in all its diversity, both in terms of subject matter and local sensibilities,” commented MAD World Co-Presidents, Alaa Karkouti and Maher Diab. “MAD has a 15-year history of breaking new ground for Arab films; MAD World will take that boundary-pushing spirit to a whole new international level.”
MAD World Co-President, Colin Brown added: “Until now, Arab filmmakers have been at the mercy of an international sales ecosystem with preconceived notions about what Arab cinema should be in order to travel. We intend to challenge those limitations, exploring all manner of distribution options around the world, even unconventional ones, in order to expand the global audience for a wider range of Arab storytellers.”
Founded in 2010, MAD Solutions boasts a rights library in excess of 500 film titles, and is prolific in the financing, production, packaging, sales, marketing and releasing of Arab entertainment that spans the gamut from festival prize-winners to commercial blockbusters. Headquartered in Cairo, MAD is also operational in the UAE, Lisbon and New York, with representatives in Tunisia, Morocco, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon. The multi-pronged studio is known for its innovative marketing strategies and industry-building initiatives including the creation of the Arab Cinema Center and the annual Critics' Awards for Arab Films, which are handed out each year at a special beach-side ceremony during the Cannes Film Festival.

For more information contact:

Alaa Karkouti, Co-President & CEO, MAD World
Maher Diab, Co-President & CEO, MAD World
Colin Brown, Co-President & COO, MAD World