UK production companies Caspian Films and Corniche Media are partnering on Ahd Kamel’s debut feature My Driver & I, which will shoot in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah early next year.
Pan-Arab studio MAD Solutions has acquired sales rights for MENA territories, and will also distribute theatrically in those territories.
Written by UK-based Ahd (who prefers to go under that single name) and based on her own experience, My Driver & I is set in Jeddah in the 1980s and 90s. It centres on the unlikely friendship between a privileged Saudi girl and her Sudanese driver, whose shared love of pop music and ice cream helps them cross divides of culture, generation and gender.
Thembisa Cochrane and Georgie Paget are producing for Caspian Films, in partnership with London-based Corniche Media, through Corniche’s Jeddah-born CEO Hani Farsi and Nils Astrand as executive producers.
Ahd’s short film Sanctity became the first Saudi film to be selected for the Berlin International Film Festival, playing in the shorts competition in 2013.
She has been developing My Driver & I for several years; and also works as an actress, with credits including Haifaa al-Mansour’s 2012 international hit Wadjda.
The film “aims to open a window on a certain strand of late twentieth century Saudi society, looking deep into the core of a privileged household where servants come to be part of the family, and watching as a girl’s universal journey through adolescence comes into contact with the reality of societal expectations,” said Ahd.
“For the last fifteen years it has been a dream of mine to make a film in my hometown of Jeddah,” said Farsi. “Finding the right story and filmmaker has taken time; I’m honoured to be working with such a hugely talented woman director from my part of the world.”
Caspian Films is currently in post-production on Claire McCarthy’s The Colour Room starring Phoebe Dynevor and Matthew Goode. Corniche has credits including Mira Nair’s Venice 2012 opener The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and most recently produced 2020 documentary He Dreams Of Giants about filmmaker Terry Gilliam.