MENA-based distributor and producer Front Row Filmed Entertainment has acquired the regional rights for British-Palestinian filmmaker Basil Khalil’ first feature, A Gaza Weekend from London-based sales and production outfit Protagonist Pictures. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival this September and received rave reviews along the way. It is also set to premiere in the MENA at the 2nd edition of the Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah, KSA in December.
This marks a repeat collaboration between Khalil and Front Row, as the company previously distributed his Academy Award and Palme D’Or Nominated short Ave Maria, which debuted in Cannes in 2015.
Produced by British-Emirati Amina Dasmal and Executive Produced by Robin C. Fox, A Gaza Weekend 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 (played by Stephen Mangan) and his Israeli girlfriend (played by 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, Loai Nofi and Maria Zreik.
Front Row has long been championing Arabic films globally for years, having previously curated the 'Palestinian Stories' collection for Netflix, as well as a list of 44 contemporary and classic Arabic titles including the works of legendary filmmakers such as Youssef Chahine, Maroun Baghdadi, Nadine Labaki and many more. The company also produced the Arabic adaptation of Perfect Strangers, starring Nadine Labaki, which was released in early 2022 and smashed all regional viewing records along the way.
“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 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.”
“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. “We are thrilled to be partnering up with Front Row once more.”
A Gaza Weekend is set for a MENA release in 2023. Protagonist Pictures are handling international sales.