EXCLUSIVE: Highland Film Group has taken on international sales of Emirati filmmaker Ali Mostafa’s pan-Arab road movie From A To B.

The film follows three former international high school pals – hailing from the UAE, Egypt and Syria – on an eventful trip from Abu Dhabi to Beirut to visit the grave of a dead friend.

It is due to go on general release across the Middle East on January 6 after successful festival screenings at Abu Dhabi and Cairo. It is also screening at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) in the Arabian Nights section on December 11.

“We’ll introduce the film to the market place at the 2015 Berlinale after the domestic release,” said Highland CEO Arianne Fraser.

Featuring popular Saudi YouTube star Fahad Albutairi alongside relative newcomers, Emirati actor Fadi Rifaai and Egyptian newcomer Shadi Alfons, the film drew an enthusiastic audience when it premiered at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival in October and also proved a crowd pleaser at the Cairo International Film Festival in November.

Backed by Image Nation and Abu Dhabi’ media and entertainment company twofour54, pan-Arab media company Rotana and Mostafa’s AFM Films – with Egyptian Mohamed Hefzy and Lebanese Paul Baboudjian on board as creative producers – the film is the most high-profile production to come out of the UAE’s fledgling film industry to date.  

“The partnership with the Highland Film Group is an exciting venture for us,” said Image Nation CEO Michael Garin. “From A to B has received fantastic reviews from screenings at the Cairo and Abu Dhabi Film Festivals and we’re excited to share it with the international market.”

With a commitment to back two to three local features a year, Abu Dhabi-based Image Nation is a driving force behind the UAE’s attempts to create a local film industry.

“As a local production, From A To B is another step for Image Nation in helping to place the UAE film industry on the world map,” added Garin.

Launched by Arianne Fraser and Delphine Perrier in November 2012, Los Angeles-based Highland Film Group is an independent worldwide sales, production and film financing company. 

Its slate to date has included the Mexican hit Instructions Not Included, teen comedy Barely Lethal, Nicolas-cage starring thriller The Trust, Revenge For Jolly and The Baytownoutlaws.

“Highland has a successful record representing specialty movies, including titles such as Instructions Not Included, which we sold to a number of international distributors and went on to gross $99m worldwide,” said Fraser.

Pan-Arab distributor Empire, which will release the film will on around 67 screens across the Middle East in January, has high hopes for the title.

“The huge buzz and positive public reaction gives us great help for a successful run,” said Empire CEO Mario G. Haddad. “We hope to break every record for an Emirati film over the Middle East.”