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Monday , January 18 2021

Netflix steps up ME production with ‘Paranormal’ series

Netflix is for the second straight year largely absent from Cannes.

Karlovy Vary features 10 world premieres

LOS ANGELES, May 28, (RTRS): Netflix is stepping up production in the Middle East with its third and most ambitious Arabic original, titled “Paranormal”, with young Egyptian director Amr Salama (“Sheikh Jackson”) on board as director and showrunner.

“Paranormal”, which is based on bestselling Arabic horror books by late Egyptian author Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, is being jointly produced by Salama (pictured) and Egypt’s prominent indie producer Mohammed Hefzy, whose Film Clinic shingle is known internationally for churning out a stream of edgy top notch titles such as “Microphone”, “Sheikh Jackson” and “Yomeddine”.

The series, which is set in the 1960’s, marks the streaming giant’s first foray into a drama produced in Egypt which is historically the region’s production powerhouse. “Paranormal” will be “packed with mystery and suspense” according to promotional materials. It depicts the adventures of lead character Dr Refaat Ismail, a hematologist who finds himself “faced with a series of supernatural events.”

“We are excited to continue our investment in Middle Eastern productions by adapting the highly acclaimed ‘Paranormal’ novels into a thrilling new series,” said Kelly Luegenbiehl, Netflix’s VP of international originals in a statement. “We’re also pleased to collaborate with prominent producer Mohamed Hefzy and director Amr Salama whose creative vision we look forward to bringing to our global audience,” she added.

“I’m proud to be working with Netflix on bringing to life the ‘Paranormal’ series, which I hold dear to my heart,” said Hefzy who besides being a top Middle East producer serves as president of the revamped Cairo Film Festival.

“I’m also excited to be cooperating again with long time collaborator and friend, director Amr Salama,” Hefzy added. “Together with Netflix, we aim to present a show of international quality and that lives up to the promises and ambitions of Egyptian and Arabic drama.”

“Paranormal”, which is expected to shoot in Egypt, is the third Middle Eastern Netflix original series following “Jinn”, a coming-of-age teen drama with supernatural elements that was shot in Jordan and will drop on June 13, and “Al Rawabi School for Girls”, a Jordan-set high-school drama produced with a fully female Arab cast and crew, that was announced last April.


LOS ANGELES: Karlovy Vary Intl Film Festival, the leading movie event in Central and Eastern Europe, unveiled its competition lineup Tuesday with a geographically diverse selection, which includes 10 world and two international premieres.

Cambodia-born British filmmaker Hong Khaou brings the follow-up to his critically acclaimed Sundance debut, “Lilting”, with a moving drama about rediscovering one’s identity in “Monsoon”, starring “Crazy Rich Asians” actor Henry Golding.

Germany’s Jan-Ole Gerster follows his well-received debut, “Oh Boy”, winner of the European Film Academy’s European Discovery Award, with the world premiere of “Lara”, a psychological study starring Corinna Harfouch.

Kara Hayward, best-known for “Moonrise Kingdom”, stars in US director Martha Stephens’ 1960s Oklahoma-set drama “To the Stars”, which premiered at Sundance and makes its international premiere at Karlovy Vary.

Spain’s Jonas Trueba “combines lightness and charm with intense existential emotions,” according to the festival, in “August Virgin”.

The PhilippinesDwein Baltazar delivers the drama “Ode to Nothing”, while Chinese director Zhai Yixiang’s “Mosaic Portrait” centers on a 14-year-old girl at a critical moment of her life.

Eastern and Southeastern Europe are represented by a trio of films by recognized filmmakers.

In “Half-Sister”, Damjan Kozole, best director winner at the 2016 Karlovy Vary for “Nightlife”, combines “compassion and humor reminiscent of the central films of the Czechoslovak New Wave.”

Bulgarian directorial duo Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov’s intimate family drama “The Father” follows on the footsteps of “The Lesson”, which won the best new director’s prize at San Sebastian, and “Glory”, which won an award at Locarno.

Slovak cinema is represented by Marko Skop’s “Let There Be Light”, a gripping drama about a father who discovers that his son is a member of a paramilitary gang. Skop’s debut feature, “Eva Nova”, picked up a Fipresci prize at Toronto.

Belgian filmmaker Tim Mielants presents “a curious journey towards understanding deeper truths about oneself in the bitingly ironic yet gentle” debut film “Patrick”.

A second feature debut in main competition is Chilean Felipe Rios’ psychological road movie “The Man From the Future”.

Returning to KVIFF’s competition section three years after “My Father’s Wings” is Turkey’s Kivanc Sezer with his “absurdly humorous look at life crisis” in “La Belle Indifference”.

The 54th edition of the festival runs June 28-July 6.

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