The UK’s Sixteen Films is joining forces with French Le Pacte, German Pandora and Egyptian Film Clinic to co-produce Palestinian filmmaker’s Sameh Zoabi Gaza-set comedy Catch The Moon.
Described as a “dramatic comedy”, it revolves around a father and son’s attempts to a get a brand new Mercedes into Gaza during an Israeli blockade, after the father promises the son’s new bride the car as a gift.
Determined to keep the promise, the pair will go to any lengths to get the prestigious vehicle into the closed territory.
Jean Labadie’s Paris-based production and distribution house Le Pacte is also handling international sales.
Zoabi, whose credits include the comic Man Without a Cellphone, will direct the film from an original first screenplay by writer Anne Koski-Wood.
“Anne’s starting point was imagining what on earth normal life could be like in Gaza… it’s a difficult concept and this evolved into a dramatic comedy,” said Rebecca O’Brien, co-founder of Sixteen Films alongside Ken Loach and Paul Laverty, who is lead producing.
Koski-Wood has worked closely with Zoabi on the final draft and the production has also consulted with a number of Palestinian filmmakers, including Arab and Tarzan Nasser, the Gaza-born filmmakers whose debut feature Dégradé is premiering in Critics’ Week in Cannes this week, to make sure the tale is authentic.
“The reason I want to make the film is because it’s a delightful script but also I want to demonstrate that there are real people living real lives in Gaza. That world is never shown… it’s always shown as a battlefield but people have to somehow live through all that,” said O’Brien.
The film is due to shoot for five weeks in Jordan and Palestine this autumn for release in 2016. The cast has yet to be set.
“The bulk of it will be shot in Jordan,” said O’Brien. “The Royal Film Commission are incredibly helpful and resourceful and we’ve already recced around Jordan to find the right places,” said O’Brien.
The script was originally developed by UK editor David Freeman and US producers Alicia Sams and Thomas Mangan, who attached Zoabi to the project.
O’ Brien came on board after meeting Zoabi in Jordan while shooting a segment of Ken Loach’s Route Irish in 2010.
“He introduced me to the project which I really liked. I always said it would be difficult to make as an American film and it would be better to make it as a European co-production,” said O’Brien.
She ended up involving Labadie, who has distributed Loach’s last two films in France. He in turn brought in Reinhard Brundig, co-founder of distributor Pandora. The arrival of Film Clinic’s Mohammed Hefzy completed the production jigsaw. The BFI has also lent its support to the project.
“I am thrilled to be working with such a distinguished group of co-producers on this delightful project,” said O’Brien.
She added that the film could also be one of the first features to be made under the auspices of a UK-Palestinian co-production accord signed in 2010.
We’re making a film about Palestine, set in Palestine so it’s important that we use that treaty,” she said.