EXCLUSIVE: Dubai-based Vox Cinemas is in final negotiations to acquire pan-Arab rights to Emirati director Waleed Al Shehhi’s Dolphins ahead of its premiere at DIFF on Friday.

Shot against the backdrop of the Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, the film follows three intertwined characters – a divorced couple and their son – over the course of 24 hours, as they set off on separate journeys of self-discovery, which will re-define their lives.

“It’s a great piece of filmmaking, from the way it’s shot to the story-telling and the way it captures the relationships between the father, son and mother,” said Toni El Massih, director of distribution and film content at VOX Cinema.

The film won the $100,000 IWC Filmmaker Award at DIFF last year.

VOX, a subsidiary of the Majid Al Futtaim property and retail group, is best known in the region as an exhibitor, operating 87 screens in the UAE, 17 in Oman and another 15 in Beirut.

The company started breaking into distribution last year – servicing the slate of Jaguar International for one year – and is now starting to acquire films on its own for pan-Arab release. 

Distribution chief El Massih plans to release Dolphins in January, some two weeks after the release of fellow Emirati director Ali Mostafa’s pan-Arab road movie From A to B

Dolphins is a more challenging film to release but I think we can make it work. We have the team to launch it. As well as targeting the usual promotional channels such as local media we also plan to organise special screenings for schools and universities,” revealed El Messih.

The film was acquired as part of the Dubai Film Market’s Dubai Distribution Programme aimed at supporting the distribution of Arab films in the region.

Under the initiative, pan-Arab distributors VOX, Front Row Filmed Entertainment,  Kuwait National Cinema Company (KNCC), Empire and Gulf Film have each agreed to acquire one title from the DIFF programme and release it in the region. DIFF in return will help promote the release. 

All the acquisitions are due to be announced at the end of the festival.