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Is Jean-Jacques Annaud’s ‘Black Gold’ Biggest Ever Arab-Backed Pic?

Tarak Ben Ammar’s Quinta Communications has brought the Doha Film Institute aboard as a co-producer of Black Gold, the Jean-Jacques Annaud-directed feature that began production in Tunisia on October 18. DFI, making its first foray into a major international feature production, will provide a mix of equity, services and locations. Even though the $55 million picture is directed by a French helmer, Black Gold is shaping up to be groundbreaking for a film that is back by Arabs with subject matter about them. An adaptation of the Hans Reusch novel The Great Thirst, Black Gold stars Antonio Banderas, Tahar Rahim, Mark Strong, Freida Pinto, Riz Ahmed and Liya Kebede. The drama is about the rivalry between two Emirs in Arabia in the 1930s, 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 is being earmarked for Christmas, 2011 release, and Warner Bros has signed on to distribute in France, UK, Latin America and the Middle East, while Universal Pictures International will release it in Germany and Spain and Quinta’s Eagle Pictures has Italy. Read More »

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Antonio Banderas Takes On ‘Black Gold’

Warner Bros and Universal are sharing territories on Tunisian entrepreneur Tarak Ben Ammar’s next feature Black Gold. The story revolves around the rivalry between Arabian rulers in the 1930s just as oil is being discovered, and the rise of a young, dynamic leader who unites the various tribes of the desert kingdoms. Filming begins in Tunisia on October 18, with shooting taking place in Ben Ammar’s Empire Studios and on location in Tunisia. Tahar Rahim (A Prophet), Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes), Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire), Riz Ahmed and Liya Kebede star along with Banderas. Jean-Jacques Annaud (Enemy at the Gate, Seven Years In Tibet) will direct, based on the screenplay by Menno Meyjes (Empire of the Sun, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). Warner will distribute in France, the UK, Latin America and the Middle East. Universal Pictures International (UPI) is releasing the film in Germany and Spain. Quinta Communications’ Eagle Pictures is handling distribution in Italy. Quinta says remaining territories are being finalised for a worldwide Christmas 2011 release. Ben Ammar, who sits on the board of The Weinstein Company, most recently co-produced Rachid Bouchareb’s Outside the Law.

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