Tarak Ben Ammar’s Quinta Communications and the Doha Film Institute to co-produce acclaimed filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud’s $55 million “Black Gold”
(Doha, Qatar) - October 28 2010- Tarak Ben Ammar’s Quinta Communications has signed a landmark agreement with the Doha Film Institute (DFI) to co-produce the epic feature film “Black Gold.”
Antonio Banderas, Tahar Rahim, Mark Strong, Freida Pinto, Riz Ahmed and Liya Kebede have signed on to star in “Black Gold”, an epic adventure adaptation of Hans Reusch’s classic novel “The Great Thirst”. Acclaimed filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud (“Quest for Fire”; “The Name of the Rose”; “Seven Years in Tibet”; “Enemy at the Gates”) will direct based on the screenplay by Menno Meyjes (“The Color Purple”; “Empire of the Sun”; “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”). Jean-Jacques Annaud and Alain Godard have co-written the story.
Principal photography began in Tunisia on October 18 and the film will shoot in and around Ben Ammar’s Empire Studios in Tunisia, as well as on location in Qatar next year.
”Black Gold” tells the story of the rivalry between two Emirs in Arabia in the 1930’s just as oil is being discovered, and the rise of a young, dynamic leader who unites the various tribes of the desert kingdoms. The film will sweep audiences into the heart of the Arabian Peninsula in a way not seen since David Lean’s seminal “Lawrence of Arabia” some fifty years ago.
As previously announced, Warner Bros and Universal Pictures International will distribute the film worldwide on a multi-territory basis, an unprecedented feat for a film about the Arab world.
Warner Bros will distribute the film in France, the United Kingdom, Latin America and the Middle East. Universal Pictures International (UPI) will distribute the film in Germany and Spain. Quinta Communications’ Eagle Pictures is handling distribution in Italy.
Remaining distribution deals are currently being finalised for a worldwide Christmas 2011 release.
Tahar Rahim, after his award-winning, breakthrough performance in Jacques Audiard’s “Un Prophete,” will play the lead role of Prince Auda in “Black Gold”, a hero torn between two fathers, two loves, two choices, one destiny.
Mark Strong (“Robin Hood”; “Sherlock Holmes”; “Kick-Ass”) is Auda’s father Amar, ruler of Salmaah, who is forced to give up his beloved two sons after losing a battle to his fierce enemy Nessib, ruler of the kingdom of Hobeika, played by Antonio Banderas (“Mask of Zorro”; “You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger”) . Frieda Pinto (“Slumdog Millionaire”; “Miral”) plays Princess Lallah, the daughter of Nessib and future wife of Auda. Riz Ahmed (“Four Lions”) plays the role of the wisecracking Dr. Ali, half-brother to Auda, while supermodel Liya Kebeda (“Flower of the Desert”) plays fiery Bedouin slave girl Aicha.
For Tarak Ben Ammar, the production of “Black Gold” represents the culmination of a thirty year journey to adapt Hans Reusch’s novel.
“I am delighted that the Doha Film Institute will be my partners in bringing this epic story of Arab heroism and nobility to audiences around the world,” said Tarak Ben Ammar. “When I first tried to make this film over 30 years ago, I could not find any Arab partners who shared my belief that culture and cinema was a priority. Now, thanks to the inspirational vision of H.E. Sheikha Mayassa Bint Hamad Al Thani and her team at the Doha Film Institute, I can see how much has changed and that progress is real.”
For the Doha Film Institute, which launched at the Cannes Film Festival this year, “Black Gold” represents the first, major, international feature film that the organisation has been involved with.
Amanda Palmer, Executive Director of DFI said: “One of the goals of DFI is to support and showcase Arab storytellers and expand the reach of Arab films globally. Since our launch five months ago, we have been looking for film financing opportunities that provide unique educational experiences to Qatari youth, and it was important for us to find a production to film here. ‘Black Gold’ will enable us to give Qatar’s young talent hands-on experience on a major international production, so that we can train and develop a skilled film community here in Doha and then build an infrastructure regionally to capitalise on growing global interest in Arab cinema."
Central to both Quinta Communications and Doha Film Institute is the fact that “Black Gold” will deliver to audiences around the world an entertaining adventure in the Arabian desert and the kind of breathtaking action and spectacle that contemporary audiences are craving for.
“This is a timely film for the whole family to see and enjoy together. We promise to transport them to another world under the Arabian sky,” said Ben Ammar. “This is a big-budget, big, big epic with a lot of action.”
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