EXCLUSIVE: Pan-Arab distributor MAD Solutions will handle distribution in the Arab world for Saudi filmmaker Ahd’s Sandfish, which will be the first production from Paul Baboudjian’s new Dubai-based Tharwa Productions.

Baboudjian is producing in collaboration with Alessandra Priante, who will be creative producer on the film.

Palestinian filmmaker Annemarie Jacir has written the script, based on Maha Gargash’s novel The Sand Fish, about a young girl growing up in the mountains of the UAE in the 1950 and 60s.

The project was one of three finalists for this year’s IWC Filmmaker Award at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF).

“MAD’s strategy is to try and work with a Pan-Arab mindset with less focus on the country of origin,” said MAD’s managing partner for its GCC bureau, Abdallah Al Shami.

“We also strive to open new channels of distribution for different genres in the film market. For this reason, we are thrilled to collaborate with Tharwa as it shares the same vision and believes in the power of telling stories from and of the Arab world.”

The producers plan to bring on board a multi-national crew.

“We are overwhelmed and incredibly happy to collaborate with an A-list team of international film professionals,” said Baboudjian and Priante.

“It is vital to find people that believe in you and in the project as much as we believe in it and we feel so blessed to have with us such a great talent and artist as Ahd is.”

The coming-of-age story revolves around an independent and beautiful young orphan who is being sold by her brother to an old pearl merchant, who already has two wives, neither whom was able to give him a child. In the journey towards her new life, she discovers love, lust, hate and eventually maternity and growth.