London-basedFelix Films Entertainment has kicked off a festival tour for A New Day in Old Sana'a, the firstfeature film ever to come from Yemen.

Intended to showWestern eyes a softer side of a country usually associated with terrorism, thefilm had its international premiere on Monday when it screened in competition atthe Cairo International Film Festival.

A New Day in Old Sana'a follows a tragic romance between an upper-classYemeni and a veiled, lower-class henna artist. The film has impressed criticsat the Cairo festival with its frank portrayal of women'slives in traditional Arab societies. A British-Yemeni co-production directed byBader Ben Hirsi the film is slated for screening atthe Dubai International Film Festival and Moscow festivals and is also underconsideration for slots at Berlin, Rotterdam and Sundance.

Producers saythey are aiming for a limited release in art-house cinemas worldwide withsubsequent sales to television and release on DVD to recoup production costs.

Ben Hirsi, who was born in London to Yemeni exiles, and producer Ahmed Abdali, who also composed the film's soundtrack, previouslycollaborated on The English Sheik and theYemeni Gentleman (2000), a documentary featuring travel writer TimMackintosh-Smith.

A New Day in Old Sana'a's $1.4 million budget came entirely from Yemeni sources,with $450,000 put by a young Yemeni businessman, Mohammed Kohlani,who is credited as executive producer.

Obstaclesincluded relentless meddling at the highest levels of the Yemen government, an incident in which an Iraqiman stabbed the Austrian actor originally slated for a lead role, and thestorming of the set by a religious group who opposed the shoot's presence in Yemen.