By Andy Sambidge
Abu Dhabi's Image Nation set to finance project written by Emirati Mohammed Saeed Harib
Image Nation, the Abu Dhabi-based production firm, is financing an Arab sports comedy by Emirati Mohammed Saeed Harib, the creator of the Freej animated series.
The comedy will be Image Nation's third venture into a local feature film after Nawaf Al-Janahi's coming-of-ager Sea Shadow, released in 2011, and Arab supernatural thriller Djinn, which is set for release in 2013.
Harib, who studied filmmaking in the US, is known as the creator of Freej, which airs on Cartoon Network's Arabic channel.
His as-yet-untitled first feature, set in the UAE will be about a disgraced former football player seeking redemption and a second chance at life by coaching a rag-tag team of public high-school students, Variety said.
It added that shooting is scheduled to start next year with plans for release next autumn.
“I am thrilled to be making the move into feature films,” said Mohammed Saeed Harib. “I was looking for my next challenge, so when the opportunity to direct Image Nation’s next project arose I jumped at the chance.”
Mohammed Al Otaiba, head of Image Nation Abu Dhabi, added: “We are excited to add a locally developed comedy to our slate, and look forward to kicking off production in the New Year.”
Image Nation was launched in 2008 as a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media with the aim of laying the foundations for an UAE film industry.
Many Abu Dhabi-backed films had a good year at the box office, with thriller Contagion and Oscar-winning The Help both grossing over $200m worldwide.
In addition, Hollywood blockbusters Ghost Rider - Spirit of Vengeance and Men in Black 3 earned $132m and $624m respectively and were both partially funded by Abu Dhabi’s Image Nation.