Egyptian director Abu Bakr Shawky, whose first film Youmuddin—about a man raised in a leper colony, with a young companion and a donkey on a journey through Egypt—was the rare distinction of cutting through the competition for Cannes, behind the camera in the travel film The ambitious Saudi “sea of sand”.
Somewhat similar to the movie “Yomeddine,” which made a splash on the festival circuit in 2018, “Sea of Sand” involves a journey through the desert, this time initiated by a boy and his camel.
“Camels are a big part of the heritage of Saudi culture,” Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy said, noting that the boy in question in the “Sea of Sand” story “is unintentionally thrown into the world of camel racing.” Hefzy went on to note: “It was not his intention to become a jockey in heroism.” “But somehow, he has to do it to survive.” A desert journey with his beloved camel follows. “I think it’s a very moving story,” Hefzy said.
The prominent producer, whose works include “Amira” by Mohamed Diab and “Huda’s Salon” by Hani Abu-Assad, is sponsoring the movie “Sea of Sand” as a joint production between the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Saudi Arabia, known as Ithra, and its center. Film Clinic Wooden Board. He said that the film mixes well-known Saudi actors: Abdul Mohsen Al-Nimr (“From A to B”, “Road 10”), Ibrahim Al-Hassawi (“The Balance”, “Zero Distance”), Al-Shaimaa Al-Tayyeb (“Valley Road”). ”) and Azzam El-Nimr with local newcomers Omar El-Atawi and Toulouse Barboud.
Hefzy said that this sort of mix is ”something I imagine you’ll see a lot in Saudi cinema, given that it’s still, in a way, in its infancy, even though there’s a lot of cast already”.
The “Sea of Sand” project was originated by Ithra’s Head of Performing Arts and Cinema Majid Al-Zaid Al-Samman, who originated the idea and has a producer credit. The screenplay is written by the Egyptian writer Omar Shama (“After the Battle”) and the Saudi writer Mufrej Al-Mujfel.
Of course, Shawky was a perfect fit for this project, having worked on “Yomeddine,” which has similar elements, “but he also really loves this world and wants to explore it,” Hefzy noted. The film is being shot mostly in a sprawling area along Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast in Tabuk, in the kingdom’s northwest, an area “enormously rich in landscapes, people, and heritage,” and also in a small part of it in Jordan, said the producer, who stressed However, “Sea of Sand” is probably “the biggest project I’ve ever had to deal with, in terms of production budget and scope”. The plan is to complete the film by summer 2023 and possibly release it from the fall festival, or perhaps earlier. Film Clinic also distributes the film in the Arab world. No international sales company on board yet.