Ghost Trail (Les Fantômes)

Source: Cannes Critics’ Week

‘Ghost Trail (Les Fantômes)’

Cairo-based MAD Distribution has acquired Jonathan Millet’s Critics’ Week opener Ghost Trail from mk2 Films, Somali director Mo Harawe’s Un Certain Regard drama The Village Next To Paradise from Totem Films and Anne-Marie Jacir’s upcoming All Before You for release in the Middle East and North Africa.

They are three of 30 titles secured by MAD Distribution for MENA territories, which also include Saif Hammash’s Palestinian short Deer’s Tooth, selected for La Cinef, and Rayane Mcirdi’s Algerian-French short After The Sun, which plays in Directors’ Fortnight.

The distribution arm of indie studio MAD Solutions plans to roll out the titles across the Arabic-speaking world in 2024 and 2025.

The total haul covers titles at various stages of production from across 16 countries from Egypt and Morocco to Palestine, Syria and Iraq.

From Tunisia, films include Tunis Djerba, the feature directorial debut of Amel Guellaty; and Nada Mezni Hafaiedh’s Take My Breath, which has already achieved theatrical success in Tunisia this year with more than 70,000 box office admissions.

Ten of the titles will be released by MAD Distribution in the Arab world and also handled for international sales across the rest of the world by MAD World, the company’s newly launched film sales division making its debut here at the Cannes market.

They include international co-production The Return Of The Prodigal Son by Rani Massalha; Lebanese vampire sci-fi The Last City by Ghassan Salhab; Tunisian comedy A Bird From Paradise by Murad Ben Cheikh (whose documentary No More Fear played at Cannes in 2011); Tunisian drama Girl Of Wind by Moufida Fedhila; and Lassaad Dkhili’s international co-production La Zone.

Further titles from the 10 include Syrian feature This Is My Night by Jafra Younes; Laila Abbas’ female empowerment drama Thank You For Banking With Us; documentary Hiding Saddam Hussein by Halkawt Mustafa; Myriam El Hajj’s Lebanese documentary Diaries From Lebanon, which played at the Berlinale; and Mehdi Hmili’s Tunisian feature Exile, which is days away from start of production.

Several acquisitions reunite MAD with filmmakers with whom the company has collaborated. They include Once Upon A Time In Gaza by Palestinian filmmaking twins Tarzan and Arab Nasser, who previously worked with MAD on Venice and Toronto selection Gaza Mon Amour; Under One’s Breath by Leyla Bouzid following her Cannes entry A Tale Of Love And Desire; The Vanishing by Karim Moussaoui, after his Cannes entry Until The Birds Return; and director Hisham Lasri’s latest feature, Happy Lovers.

Other titles snapped up by MAD Distribution include Yasemin Åžamdereli’s Tribeca-bound Somali biopic Samia; and the international co-production short Upshot by Maha Haj, whose film Mediterranean Fever won the best screenplay prize in Un Certain Regard two years ago. Further documentaries include Omar Mouallem’s Canadian film The Lebanese Burger Mafia and Maggie Morgan’s Egyptian non-fiction feature The Memoirs Of M. A. Draz.

Two Tunisian features on this slate have previously received MAD Distribution Grant awards at various platforms: Mehdi Hmili’s The Seasons Of Jannet, which received the MAD award at the inaugural edition of the Red Sea Souk; and Sara Abidi’s Wear And Tear, which won MAD’s distribution award at the MAFF Industry Days.

Rounding out the slate is Marya Zarif and Andre Kadi’s Canadian-French animation Dounia And The Princess Of Aleppo, which has enjoyed extensive play on the international festival circuit; Iraqi-Qatari thriller The Window by Koutaiba Al-Janabi, who won a BIFA Award for Leaving Baghdad; Hind Medden’s French-Tunisian feature Sudan, When Poems Fall Apart; and Ameer Fakher Eldin’s Yunan, which he filmed in Germany last year as a follow-up to his directorial debut The Stranger, which won the Edipo Re Award at Venice.