LONDON: Shahid VIP will air the Arab World’s first Arabic language sci-fi drama series on Sept. 12 as the film and media industry in the Arab World looks to broaden its scope.
Entitled ‘Hell’s Gate’, the sci-fi production features a stellar cast from the Middle East and beyond.
Set in Beirut in the year 2052, the series follows a secluded man living under an authoritarian regime in Lebanon whose life changes when a technical failure brings a mysterious woman to his doorstep.
Together, with a band of revolutionaries, they attempt to overthrow a group of private businesses and investors who have assumed control of the country.
Directed by visual artist and International Emmy Award winner Amin Dora, the series stars Canadian-Lebanese actress Cynthia Samuel and Palestinian actor Adam Bakri alongside Fadi Abi Samra, Hassan Farhat and other talents from the region.
While the majority of the cast have accumulated experience with TV dramas, this was a first for Adam Bakri as his career tended to mostly focus on cinema and theater.
“This is one of the most important and exceptional experiences of my life,” said Bakri. “I worked for a long time in the US and Europe, and this was kind of my way of going back into the Arab world.”
His co-star, Lebanon’s beloved Cynthia Samuel, is playing Alia, who was described by Samuel as an “emotionally and physically strong woman.”
While in her previous roles Samuel’s characters tended to be more feminine and soft, she says that Alia is “extremely different.”
“When I found out about the role of Alia, I felt it would be a very challenging yet great experience for me because I am embodying a character that I have always watched in films and TV shows,” Samuel said.
“This role was physically and emotionally challenging,” she added. “And an added challenge was to find a way to create a character that is both fierce but relatable and loved by the audience.”
Set to be streamed exclusively on Shahid VIP, the world’s leading Arabic streaming platform, “Hell’s Gate” is the Arab World’s first sci-fi drama series.
“The biggest challenge was to forecast how the Arab audience will react to an Arabic-language sci-fi drama,” said director Amin Dora in a media roundtable.
“In fact, the first discussion we had as producers and writers of the show was how to convince the Arab audience that the inspiration behind the show is actually a reality that all of us have been through.”
“Costume designers and set designers worked tirelessly to reach a level of accuracy and details that reflect our identity and avoid falling in the pits of westernization,” agreed Said Serhan, Lebanese writer and actor in the show.
Dora said that these challenges would not have been easily overcome without Shahid.
“Our project was very ambitious and challenging,” Director Amin Dora said. “But Shahid allowed us, as directors and producers in the Arab World, to enter new realms in cinema and TV production.”
Stream ‘Hell’s Gate’ on Shahid VIP, Shahid’s subscription-based service, on Sept. 12.