This is a three-part “heroic fantasy film” about Antara Ibn Shaddad, known in pre-Islamic times for his bravery and strength.
He has scripted the film and will also direct.
Waked (whose acting credits include Syriana and Salmon Fishing In The Yemen) won’t be starring in the film, which is being made through his production company, Zad Communications.
“We want to make a superhero that speaks Arabic,” the director said of the project. Waked says that he already has “a big chunk of the money” as well as coproducers and funders in the Gulf area. “Not enough to do the three parts so we might just do one part at the time.”
The aim is to start preparing in earnest for the film in March or April and then to shoot in winter 2012. The budget for the first part is around $5m (with the entire trilogy expected to cost $15m.)
“The first part deals with ancient Arabia and ancient Egypt so we have a lot of budget going on the sets, the costumes, the army and all of that,” Waked told Screen. “We feel that a film like Antara will really open a lot of doors for many other people who want to do historical films because there is so much history in the Arab world and Egypt world that cannot be left out of the art of cinema.”
Waked recently completed R for Revolution, which he co-produced with Ibrahim El Batout. This tells the story of events leading up to the Egyptian Revolution. Waked plays a leading role in the movie, which is angling for a Berlinale or Cannes berth next year.
“It’s a film about three characters and their interactions…the difference between what happened to them in 2009 and what they were – and what they are in 2011 during the days of the revolution.”
R For Revolution was produced through Zad, Aroma, Ain Shams, Niko Film.Waked leads the cast alongside Farah Youssef, Salah and El Hanafy. A sales agent is expected to be confirmed in the New Year.
“Hopefully our formula works, which is to make a film in Egypt and make the world watch it – and not just Arabic people,” Waked added.
The Egyptian actor is shortly to serve as a member of the international jury at the Dubai Film Festival (DIFF.) He is also shortly to appear in a new Jan Kounen TV film seires, The Flight Of The Storks, due to shoot in South Africa and produced through EuropaCorp Television.