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MAD launches pan-Arab distribution outfit

EXCLUSIVE: Cairo and Abu Dhabi-based creative consultancy MAD Solutions is launching a pan-Arab distribution outfit, MAD Distribution, focusing on Arab and international films.

The multi-platform distributor will operate in niches not currently served in the region, such as Asian and European films. It will also help the new wave of award-winning independent Arab films to travel around the region.

MAD co-founders Alaa Karkouti and Maher Diab have also brought two partners on board: former Screen editor-in-chief Colin Brown, who also works with online financing platform Slated in New York, and Abu Dhabi-based Abdallah Al Shami, previously special projects editor for UAE publishing house Shawati.

“The same political and social turmoil that has helped stoke up a new Arab cinema wave has also meant that more and more independent films are finding themselves left without a distribution home in their own markets,” said Karkouti.

The moves are part of MAD Solutions’ expansion into five business areas, with the eventual goal of creating a pan-regional independent film studio. In addition to distribution, company divisions include MAD Content (multi-platform editorial content), MAD Marketing (film marketing), MAD Celebrities (talent management) and MAD Culture (film festivals and programming).

MAD’s existing roster of clients include twofour54, MBC Group, Egyptian producer Film Clinic and Tropfest Arabia. The company has also overseen marketing for Arab festival hits such as Microphone, 678 and Hawi, as well as worked on the Egyptian release of US studio films.

Twofour54 president Wayne Borg said: “MAD Solutions’ expansion in Abu Dhabi will contribute to the growing industry infrastructure that will foster the development of world-class Arabic cinema.” Dubai film market manager Samr Al Marzooqi said: “It’s encouraging to see MAD Solutions expanding upon their creativity, strategy and resources.”

Hany Abu-Assad, whose Omar is playing in Un Certain Regard, said: “We need such an initiative now more than ever.” Film Clinic founder Mohamed Hefzy said: “The creation of MAD Distribution, combined with its affiliate companies, will open new audience doors for the exciting new generation of storytellers coming out of the region.”

Tunisian actress Hend Sabri also voiced support: “MAD’s move into talent promotion is an important step in allowing Arab actors to start enjoying the same global recognition as our international peers.”

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