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Pan-Arab distributor Mad Solutions is expanding operations by setting up Mad World, a Dubai-based company dedicated to selling Arab movies internationally that will officially launch in Cannes.

Touted as Arab cinema‘s first global sales outfit, Mad World segues from Mad Solution’s first foray in the international distribution arena last year with Sudanese director Mohamed Kordofani’s “Goodbye Julia” which they sold widely after it’s splashy launch from Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section.

In addition to acquiring global rights to an increasing number of international co-productions, the Cairo-based studio has been stepping up its involvement in packaging Arabic projects with global market potential.

Besides fresh product, MAD World will be handling sales on an extensive library of recent festival award-winners, including shorts, and a back-catalog of titles comprising regional theatrical and streaming titles, many of which have not reached audiences outside the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Most of their library titles were theatrically released across the Arabic world via MAD Distribution, the company’s distribution division that will remain focused on the MENA marketplace.

Mad World will be spearheaded by Mad Solutions’s two co-founders, Alaa Karkouti and Maher Diab, as well as a third managing partner, Brooklyn-based media analyst and consultant Colin Brown who is also a former editor of Screen International. All three will wear co-president hats at MAD World, with Karkouti serving as CEO. Also joining MAD World are two European executives with experience in the international licensing arena. Edin De Liancourt, formerly with London-based Film Seekers and France’s Goodfellas, is joining MAD World as VP sales and acquisitions, while Jeanne Deny, who has worked as an assistant on the international sales teams at France’s SND Films and the acquisitions team at Federation Studios is joining as director of sales and acquisitions.

The MAD World team is coming to Cannes with a dozen titles in various stages, including  Palestinian director Laila Abbas’s upcoming female empowerment drama “Thank You for Banking With Us!” (pictured); Egyptian director Rani Massalha’s satirical “The Return of the Prodigal Son,” about a pig farmer in Egypt who is a member of the country’s often persecuted Coptic Christian community that is thrown in turmoil by a breakout of swine flu; “The Last Exorcist,” a horror movie by Saudi writer-turned-director Asim Altokhais, adapted by his own comic book; Tunisian director Murad Ben Cheik’s “A Bird From Paradise,” about preparations rites for Tunisian weddings; and Yellow Bus,” the drama now on the fest circuit by Middle East-based U.S. director Wendy Bednarz that follows a mother’s quest for justice after suffering an unthinkable tragedy.

“With MAD World we have created a dedicated platform for exporting Arabic cinema in all its diversity, both in terms of subject matter and local sensibilities” said Alaa Karkouti and Maher Diab in a statement.

Colin Brown commented: “Mad has a 15-year history of breaking new ground for Arab films; Mad World will take that boundary-pushing spirit to a whole new international level.

“Until now, Arab filmmakers have been at the mercy of an international sales ecosystem with preconceived notions about what Arab cinema should be in order to travel. We intend to challenge those limitations, exploring all manner of distribution options around the world, even unconventional ones, in order to expand the global audience for a wider range of Arab storytellers,” Brown added.



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