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MAD Distribution Acquires All Arab Rights to Somali-Set Un Certain Regard


Global entertainment news website Deadline has revealed that MAD Distribution, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) distribution subsidiary of Cairo-based indie studio MAD Solutions, has acquired the MENA rights to Mo Harawe’s THE VILLAGE NEXT TO PARADISE from Totem Films. This film, featured in the Un Certain Regard section, is the first feature film shot in Somalia to be selected for the Cannes Film Festival.

MAD’s acquisition of the MENA distribution rights from Totem follows their successful partnership with Harawe on his 2020 short film LIFE ON THE HORN, which was well-received at the Locarno International Film Festival that year.

Set in a windy Somali desert village, THE VILLAGE NEXT TO PARADISE revolves around a newly assembled family navigating their different aspirations and the complex world surrounding them. Themes of love, trust, and resilience drive them through life’s challenges, including civil war and natural disasters.

Written and directed by Harawe as his feature-length directorial debut, the film offers a poignant take on Somali life and features a cast of emerging Somali actors, including Ahmed Ali Farah, Ahmed Mohamud Saleban, and Anab Ahmed Ibrahim. The film is an international co-production involving FreibeuterFilm (Austria), Kazak Productions (France), Niko Film (Germany), and Maanmaal ACC (Somalia), with Totem Films handling international sales. French theatrical distribution will be managed by Jour2Fête.

Cinematographer Mostafa El Kashef, who returns to the Cannes Film Festival this year after his short film I PROMISE YOU PARADISE won the Valbonne Audience Award and Rail d’Or for Best Short Film last year, lends his expertise to this project. The film is edited by Joana Scrinzi, who received the Best Film Editing prize from the Austrian Film Awards for her work on the multi-award-winning film GREAT FREEDOM, with Nuur Abdulkadir serving as production designer.

Developed at the Torino Film Script Lab, THE VILLAGE NEXT TO PARADISE received a post-production prize from the Atlas Workshops of the Marrakech Film Festival and a Locarno Industry award.

Born in Mogadishu, Mo Harawe is a Berlinale Talents alumnus who won a prestigious scholarship from the Austrian Federal Ministry for the Arts in 2019. He has been studying for a master’s degree in Visual Communication at the Art University in Kassel since 2020. His filmography includes several compelling short films, including LIFE ON THE HORN, which received a Special Mention at the Locarno Film Festival and Best Short Film award at the Carthage Film Festival, and WILL MY PARENTS COME AND SEE ME, which premiered at Berlinale Shorts and won the Grand Prix at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival.

Founded in 2010, MAD Solutions boasts a rights library of more than 500 film titles and is prolific in financing, production, packaging, sales, marketing, and releasing Arab entertainment, spanning from festival prize-winners to commercial blockbusters.

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