LOS ANGELES: Saudi filmmakers Hisham Fageeh and Sultan Tamer have decided to take a step toward bridging the culture gap between Hollywood and post-cinema ban Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning film industry.
The pair recently launched their company DH’BAB Production, which provides a platform for Saudi creators to tell stories uniquely rooted in their culture.
“America has a deep history of representing Arabs in a specific way, and other minorities,” Fageeh said in an interview with Arab News. “I don’t necessarily need to change all of Hollywood. I just want to make a tiny, tiny enclave where people are telling authentic stories that are not racist or Orientalist.”
The goal of Fageeh, the comedian and star of “Barakah Meets Barakah,” and his partner – fellow producer Tamer – is to ensure their movies are as entertaining for ardent film fans as for those with little theatre-going experience.
“We’re going to focus on genre stuff. So, a lot of horror, a lot of comedy,” said Fageeh. “The prestige stuff is important. We love it and we know we have friends that are doing it, but we want to make movie going a tradition back home, especially with the cinemas opening up.”
The founders believe that streaming cinema is not enough, and hope that the movies they make can become blockbusters in their home country and popularize theaters as a place for community members to come together.
“Because it’s the only visceral space that exists that is accessible to everyone where you can go and collectively laugh at a film or you can hold your breath at the suspense of a horror or a thriller,” Fageeh explained.
“I really want that to be part of the social and cultural tradition of people in Saudi Arabia,” he added.
According to the website, the company is now working on two productions — “Grave Sin” and “The Tribe” — that are in the development stage.
“Grave Sin” is a horror feature film set in Saudi Arabia that revolves around Aziz, who begrudgingly leaves Japan to console his grieving mother by building her a new house. Paranormal activity will blur the lines between emotional and actual demons haunting him.
“The Tribe” is a Saudi Arabia-set television series centered on a group of Jeddah high schoolers who survived a bus crash in the world’s largest uninterrupted desert, Rub Al-Khali, The Empty Quarter, and must uncover the dark supernatural secrets of an ancient, buried city if they ever hope to go home.