After acquiring the Arabic remake rights for international box office hit Intouchables, Front Row has landed the writing and directing team for the project in Egyptian screenwriter Amr El Daly and Egyptian/Franco-Lebanese director Jad Aouad. Intouchables is the second Arabic remake in Front Row’s slate following the Arabic adaptation of Italy’s worldwide hit Perfect Strangers.
The 2011 French film, which starred François Cluzet and Omar Sy as an unlikely duo, made more than US $426.6 million at the box office, making it the highest grossing foreign language hit. The film also ranks third in France’s all-time box office and its massive success translated into several adaptations including the 2019 US version The Upside starring Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart, and Nicole Kidman.
The Arabic version of Intouchables is set to take place in Egypt and, like the original, focuses on a wealthy paraplegic and his relationship to a small-time hood who becomes his caretaker. The two form a strong bond despite the social and cultural divide between them.
Screenwriter Amr El Daly’s career kicked off when he developed the much-praised TV series Dawaran Shoubra, an ensemble drama that evoked a sense of youthful revolution as truth and fiction merged with the 2011 Tahrir Square revolution unfolding as he was writing. Amr’s focus on themes of class struggle and the individual versus the collective will be further explored in Intouchables.
About working on this latest project he stated: “I am very excited about adapting Intouchables into an Arabic language Egyptian film. The story touches on many relatable themes explored through the differences between the socioeconomic classes, which is something that cuts deep for me. I am very intrigued by the contrast in the nature, circumstances, morals and education of each of the two characters and am truly excited to play around with these dynamics and how they form this friendship/bond. I am also really looking forward to working with Jad Aouad after having met him in Cairo. I feel he is really sensitive to these complex issues within this story and we really saw eye-to-eye in that sense.”
As far as director Jad Aouad goes, Intouchables will be his feature debut. He has had an award-winning career in advertising, working alongside renowned international talents as Florent-Emilio Siri, Pascal Dash, Diamentino Ferriera and famed Hollywood director Jan de Bont of Twister and Speed fame. Aouad excitedly shared his thoughts on working on this adaptation: “I’ve been building to this moment my entire career, working with wonderful international talents throughout the years. Intouchables is a touching, humanist film that fits perfectly with my personal sensibilities – what brings us together as people, what transcends status and capital.”
The last words here come from Front Row CEO Gianluca Chakra, whose fresh approach to filmmaking will at the very least enrich, and quite possibly revolutionise the cinematic landscape in the Region: “We’ve made it our mission to find and nurture emerging talent that we feel will have a profound impact and drive change in the creative industry. We’re very excited to be working with both Jad and Amr on Intouchables. They have truly authentic voices and a natural instinct that will make this version of Intouchables unique for Arab viewers while also translate well for the international audiences.”
Front Row Filmed Entertainment is a leading independent film distribution company that acquires all rights for distribution in the Middle East and North Africa based in Dubai (UAE) and with offices in Kuwait and Lebanon. Front Row was launched in 2003 by Gianluca & Michel Chakra and currently boasts a film library of close to 1,000 titles. The company is also partnered with Kuwait National Cinema Company (KNCC) and KSA’s leading cinema chain, Muvi Cinemas under the banner of Front Row Arabia.