By Andy Sambidge
George Clooney being approached to star in first production for Oasis Film Fund
A new £200m ($313.6m) fund has been created to encourage Middle East investors to get involved in the British movie industry.
Twickenham Film Group on Wednesday announced the creation of the solely Middle East-backed Oasis Film Fund, part of the Twickenham Film Group of companies.
Launched with the aim of funding future major productions, including those with strong and positive Arab storyline content, the fund aims to appeal "to both individual and corporate Middle East investors keen to involve themselves within the booming British film industry", a statement said.
With the UK now the third largest cinema market in the world after grossing a record-breaking £1bn in 2011, the Oasis Film Fund aims to build on the industry's on-going success with its new Oasis Film Fund slate.
Featuring ten commercial films, the fund aims to work with established A-List movie stars, as well as discovering the next generation of acting, writing and directing talent from both the UK and the Middle East.
Twickenham Film Group's mandate is to work alongside as many Arab actors, writers, producers and directors as possible in the production of their newly announced slate of ten films, the statement added.
Twickenham Film Group said its first production would be Saladin, and George Clooney was being approached to play the title role in the planned £60m epic.
Saladin tells the story of the 12th century warrior king and his heroic fight against Richard the Lionheart in the Third Crusade.
"A story to capture audiences in the Arab world and the West alike, Saladin promises to bring the story of the most prominent Arab hero to the big screen like never before," the statement said.
It added that talks are underway to produce the film both on location in the Middle East and in the UK.
Other productions in the slate announced by the Twickenham Film Group include Rachel and Talal, a heart-warming journey of culture-clashing discovery between an elderly American Jewish woman living in London and teenage Arab student Talal, hired to help look after her.
The producers intend to reach out to Barbra Streisand (Yentl, The Way We Were) for the lead role.
This would be a major development and hopefully will enable a genuinely balanced and liberal voice on not only things like Israel-Palestine but in a wider cultural sense. The pen versus the sword.
So, it's now up to Arabs to prove their craftsmanship by writing and directing movies that will entertain the world and levy the distorted image they are being depicted with.