Paul Baboudjian Reveals Plans for on an Emirati-Inspired Film Project and a New Dubai-Based Production House

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In a World Exclusive with Screen Daily

Paul Baboudjian Reveals Plans for on an Emirati-Inspired Film Project and a New Dubai-Based Production House

In a world exclusive interview with Screen Daily, Lebanese producer Paul Baboudjian revealed information on his upcoming Emirati film project, Sandfish.

Based on Maha Gargash's bestseller, The Sand Fish, the film marks the first production project for Baboudjian's new Dubai-based production company Tharwa Productions.

Set in the late 1950s, UAE, Sandfish is a coming-of-age story that traces an orphan girl living as a third wife for a sterile bigamist husband. The film follows her journey from rebellious youth to maturity; from childhood to motherhood learning new meanings about life, love, hate, betrayal, respect, maternity and growth.

On his new adaptation Baboudjian remarked, "When I came across Maha Gargash's best-seller The Sand Fish, I was completely besotted by the story, the characters, the delicacy yet the harshness of the old UAE, all rotating around the adventures of this amazing little girl Noora whom we follow from rebellious youth to maternity."
"I believed in its cinematic potential and I felt the urge of bringing it to film audiences," added the UAE-based filmmaker.

Sandfish is produced by Baboudjian's Tharwa Productions and in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Expert Alessandra Priante. The new production house is designated to officially open for business before the end of this year.

Writer Gargash said of the producers: "I like to think of the film's producers as the fire-and-ice team. There's the spirited drive of Alessandra Priante paired with the cool-headed methodology of Paul Baboudjian."

"From day one, they embraced the project of turning The Sand Fish into a movie with a passion that has grown stronger with each passing day. What more could an author ask for?" says Gargash.

The new Emirati feature is slated to be directed by Saudi director Ahd Kamel, the first Saudi filmmaker to take part in Berlin International Film Festival. Ahd, as she's officially known as, has two short films under her belt, Sanctity and The Shoemaker, but is more widely-known as the teacher in the first Saudi feature, Wadjda.

Tharwa Productions will both service productions shooting in the UAE as well as developing its own projects at the same time. "The plan is to service the local commercial industry - Dubai is a hub for commercials in the region," says Baboudjian reflecting on Tharwa's objectives.