JEDDAH: Regional TV entertainment company OSN is to produce Saudi filmmaker Ahd Kamel’s work “My Driver & I,” in association with the Red Sea Fund, MAD Solutions, the UK Global Screen Fund, and production companies Corniche Media and Caspian Films, both of which are also based in the UK.
The production partnership was announced at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Al-Balad, Jeddah, on Tuesday.
Written and directed by award-winning Kamel, the film is co-produced by Jeddah-based companies Yellow Camel and Millimeter. The film will air on OSNtv and stream on OSN+.
MAD Solutions will hold all international distribution rights outside Arab-speaking territories.
“My Driver & I” is set in Jeddah in the 1980s and 90s and follows the story of Salma, a young Saudi girl from an affluent family, and Gamar, a young Sudanese man.
Gamar moves to Jeddah after being employed as Salma’s driver, and their relationship quickly develops into an intimate friendship that lasts throughout her teenage years and beyond. It is a story of independence and finding family in the most unexpected places.
The film's cast includes Jordanian actress Saba Mubarak, Saudi rapper Quasai Kheder, Sudanese actor Mostafa Shahata, and Saudi actor Baraa Alem.
Kamel said: “I have been developing ‘My Driver & I’ for several years and I wanted to base the film on my memories of Jeddah.
“The film tackles a discourse around a specific trend in Saudi households where servants come to be part of the family, and a universal journey of the Saudi girl.”
Joe Kawkabani, CEO of OSN, told Arab News: “OSN has been a broadcaster, but entering production is a whole new experience.
“To excel in the area, we believe it is important to work with local and regional companies that have the experience, and work at the grassroots level with talent which in turn can help us to produce and get to the level that we want to achieve.
“And this is one of the collaborations with MAD Solutions and Ahd Kamel that we’re very excited about.”
Kawkabani added: “There is a massive opportunity for Saudi youngsters and Arab talents in general. At OSN we are working hard to give them the voice and a platform to outshine.”
Alaa Karkouti, CEO and co-founder of MAD Solutions, and the Arab Cinema Center, said: “We always believe in supporting and encouraging talents in the MENA region.
“We worked on Ahd Kamel’s short film ‘Sanctity’ earlier and it was the first Saudi film to be selected for the Berlin International Film Festival.
“She is one of the most talented people to work with and we look forward to a positive collaboration.
“This movie is a real example of different nationalities working together, and the film has already attracted the attention of several companies around the world.”
Sheikha Al-Zain S. Al-Sabah, Vice-Chairperson of OSN, commenting on the collaboration, said, “This was very much needed in our part of the world, we feel that it will see the growth for further developments or projects that require co-productions on all ends, and allow for the extra building of a viable content and value chain while adding hope and inspiration to a lot of storytellers, visual storytellers, moving forward within the region.”
Al-Sabah stated that OSN has been on the sidelines for some time and hence, this was the right time for OSN to start their own IP, and partake in the creation and development of projects that they find to be both interesting and thought provoking and easily universal in scope.
Additionally, she stated that there is an exciting roster coming up for 2023 with many film and TV projects, all OSN originals, in progress.