EXCLUSIVE: Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, the legendary Egyptian actor who was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement award at last year’s DIFF, will headline an adaptation of Two Rooms And A Parlour, a new high-profile addition to the production slate of Arab talent hothouse Film Clinic.

Based on Hugratan wa Salah, the 2010 novel by revered Egyptian writer Ibrahim Aslan, the project is one of nine being presented here at Interchange, the development and co-production workshop that unites DIFF with EAVE and Torino FilmLab.

Abdel Aziz will play the central character of Khalil, a reclusive retiree who is forced to confront his life choices after the death of his wife. Realising that he has never left Cairo, Khalil makes it his mission to see another country before he dies, and in the process begins to interact with neighbours he has spent his life trying to avoid.

Scheduled to start shooting in the second half of 2014, Two Rooms And A Parlour will mark the feature-length directorial debut of Sherif El Bendari, a filmmaker who has made several successful shorts. Film Clinic president Mohamed Hefzy will produce.

“After a very busy year and three films completed in 2013, we are looking forward to launching the career of another very promising Egyptian director in late 2014, as well as gearing up for co-productions with Germany and the UK based on Egyptian subjects and stories that we hope to take successfully to the international market,” said Hefzy.

Among the completed Film Clinic productions now being readied for release in Egypt are Ayten Amin’s Villa 69 and Amr Salama’s Excuse My French (La Mo’akhza). The company is currently enjoying box office success with Ahmed Abdallah’s Rags And Tatters.

Hefzy has also been increasingly involved in international collaborations. He is one of three producers on the pan-Arab project A To B and is teaming up with LA-based Silvatar and Fox International Pictures on Cairo-based genre film Site 146.