ALULA: The riveting Hollywood action thriller “Kandahar” had a special private screening at the picturesque desert resort Banyan Tree AlUla on Thursday, in collaboration with VOX Cinemas.
The film, which stars Gerard Butler, Ali Fazal, and Navid Negahban, is the first major US movie to be shot largely in Saudi Arabia. Much of the filming took place in AlUla, and the cast stayed at Banyan Tree.
Indian actor Fazal — who regularly travelled to the Kingdom for holidays as a child — attended the screening, as did representatives from the Saudi Film Commission and The Royal Commission for AlUla.
Speaking to Arab News, Fazal said: “AlUla is one of the best places to watch the film and I couldn’t ask for more. I came with my friend and producing partner and both of us are sitting enjoying this movie right in the middle of where we shot it. It’s surreal. I can’t believe it, as this almost feels like home now.”
I grew up watching Gerard Butler and Ric Roman Waugh’s movies and the fact that I worked with them is surreal to me.
Hakeem Jomah, Saudi actor
“Kandahar” was co-produced by Eagle Films, G-BASE, Thunder Road, Capstone Studios, and MBC Studios. The shoot was a reunion for Butler and director Ric Roman Waugh, who have worked together several times before. The film follows Butler’s character, Tom Harris, an undercover CIA operative trapped in hostile territory Afghanistan, on his dangerous journey — alongside his Afghan translator — to his extraction point in Kandahar.
Saudi actor Hakeem Jomah, who also appears in the film, said after the screening: “I grew up watching Gerard Butler and Ric Roman Waugh’s movies and the fact that I worked with them is surreal to me. And (‘Kandahar’) is a big milestone for Saudi Arabian filmmaking.”
AlUla, the first UNESCO World Heritage site in Saudi Arabia, is expected to play a significant role in the Kingdom’s ambitious plans for its film industry.