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MAD Solutions Expansion Kick-starts the First Pan-Arab Independent Film Studio

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Launches a New Regional Film Distribution Subsidiary and Announces New North American & European Presence

MAD Solutions Expansion Kick-starts the First Pan-Arab Independent Film Studio


MAD Solutions, the creative consultancy whose marketing campaigns have helped usher in an exciting new generation of Arab filmmakers and entertainment talent, is now moving into film distribution as part of a multi-pronged corporate expansion that lays the foundation for the Arab world's first pan-regional independent film studio. Screen International magazine has singled out an article on MAD's expansion in its daily publications at Cannes Film Festival (check the link below).

The new subsidiary, MAD Distribution, will operate in market niches currently not being served in the Arab-speaking-world. The company will also distribute the most prominent cinema productions in the new Arab cinema movement. In doing so, MAD Distribution addresses an urgent market problem faced by the growing number of award-winning independent Arab filmmakers whose works face major challenges in being seen in theatres outside the festival circuit where they have achieved acclaim and collected numerous prizes. International films from the world's other filmmaking regions will also be part of the company's new distribution mix.

"The same political and social turmoil that has helped stoke up a new Arab cinema wave has also meant that more and more independent films are finding themselves left without a distribution home in their own markets," explained MAD Solutions' Managing Partner Alaa Karkouti, who co-founded the company with celebrated Designer Maher Diab. "We are already involved in creating editorial, programming TV and online networks, promoting talent and finding innovative, cost-effective ways to bring unconventional stories and talent to local and international attention. Film distribution is both an exciting and a necessary complement to all our existing communication and content solutions".

With offices in both Cairo and Abu Dhabi, MAD Solutions already spans the two largest cinema markets in the Arab world, Egypt and the U.A.E. In addition, MAD Solutions will now have presence in New York City, Toronto and London as part of a commitment to broaden global awareness for Arab cinema as well as open up the MENA marketplace to international films and filmmakers.

Two new partners are also joining co-founders Alaa Karkouti and Maher Diab as part of an expanded management team. They are former Screen International Editor-in-Chief Colin Brown, who is also Editorial Director for the online film financing platform Slated; and Abdallah Al Shami, previously Special Projects Editor for U.A.E. publishing house Shawati'.

Until now, all of MAD Solutions' activities have been conducted under this single corporate identity. The name MAD Solutions will now serve as a corporate umbrella for an organization comprised of five different dedicated subsidiaries: MAD Content (provides media content for media outlets), MAD Marketing(marketing services for films and entertainment industry), MAD Celebrities (promoting films, celebrities and new talent) MAD Culture (festivals, programming and education) and MAD Distribution, whose debut slate of titles will be announced shortly.

The company's roster of clients embraces many of the most prominent names in the Arab filmmaking and entertainment world. They include twofour54; MBC Group; Film Clinic; Tropfest Arabia; Al-Hurra News TV Channel and Sony Pictures Arabia. MAD Solutions has overseen the marketing for numerous Arab-language festival hits (including shorts and long documentaries) such as ┬Ż Revolution, The Last Friday,Tahrir 2011, 678, Microphone, Hawi, Harag W' Marag ("Chaos & Disorder"), Sanctity, In Search of Oiland Sand and Asham, and worked on the Egyptian release campaigns for major studio films from 20thCentury Fox, Warner Bros., Universal, Paramount, Sony, Disney, Summit & Lionsgate andDreamWorks.

Many of the leading creative and executive talents involved in that list are now welcoming MAD's expansion for its potential to elevate Arab cinema's commercial prospects.

"Throughout the past four years, MAD Solutions have become an indispensable partner to Film Clinichelping to re-imagine how our films could be positioned and marketed. The next logical step is to break the last remaining barrier, which is distribution," says Mohamed Hefzy, Founder of leading Cairo-based production house Film Clinic and Artistic Director of Egypt's Ismailia Film Festival. "The creation of MADDistribution, combined with its affiliated companies, will open new audience doors for the exciting new generation of storytellers coming out of the region".

Hend Sabri, the popular Tunisian actress, who was named among the 100 most powerful Arab women in 2013 by CEO Middle East magazine, is another enthusiastic supporter, "I am delighted to work with such talented professionals and friends. MAD's move into talent promotion is an important step in allowing Arab actors to start enjoying the same global recognition as our international peers. The fact is that Arab cinema still has no effective star-making engine to propel the screen careers of our region's stunning talents."

Hany Abu-Assad, the Palestinian filmmaker who earned an Oscar nomination for Paradise Now and whose latest narrative feature Omar has recently won the Special Jury Prize at Un Certain Regard sidebar at theCannes Film Festival 2013, describes MAD's expansion plan as, "very promising; we need such an initiative now more than ever".

Wayne Borg, Chief Commercial Officer at Abu Dhabi media industry hub twofour54 comments, "We have worked with MAD Solutions, both on individual film campaigns and in the development of Tropfest Arabiaas a launch platform for new and emerging filmmaking talent in the region. MAD Solutions expansion in Abu Dhabi will contribute to the growing industry infrastructure that will foster the development of world-class Arabic cinema".

Samer Al Marzooqi, Dubai Film Market Manager for the Dubai International Film Festival adds, "It's encouraging to see MAD Solutions expanding upon their creativity, strategy and resources and taking the opportunity to branch out in key locations with additional services that will further benefit the film and entertainment industry".

And Vincenzo Bugno, Berlin International Film Festival Delegate for the Arab world and the Project Manager of the Berlinale's World Cinema Fund says: "When I met Alaa the first time I was very impressed by his energy and innovative attitude; Alaa is still youthful today and, as a journalist and communication expert, remains one of the most interesting professionals of the film industry in the Arab World".

To read the full article in Screen International's, please visit the following link: http://goo.gl/WDpeL .

Alaa Karkouti
Alaa is a renowned Film Analyst and an influential professional within the cinema and entertainment industry in the Arab world for his efforts in assembling complete archives on the economics of filmmaking. His expertise in cinema analysis has provided him with many opportunities to participate in various panels and juries in film festivals worldwide. He established three cinema magazines during the first ten years in the 21st century. He also worked in film distribution, film production and theater management. Karkouti has also acted as a publisher for many prominent publications worldwide. For 15 years he had the opportunity to cover and interview numerous movie stars in several film festivals. Moreover, Karkouti annually publishes a list of the 50 most powerful people working in the film business across the Arab world, which is the first list of its kind in the Arab world.

Maher Diab
Multi talented, cosmopolitan illustrator, photographer & visual artist who worked as an Art Director for several years in the advertising industry in some of the leading companies in the Arab world including
BBDO, Y&R & JWT working on various visual approaches from photo montage and layout design to digital illustration. He also worked in creating cover designs for several magazines and newspapers. In 2012 Maher took part in Berlinale Film Festival in the "Meet the Experts" program to discuss the film industry in the Arab world.

Colin Brown
Based in New York City, Colin is part of the senior team of Slated as Editorial Director, the private marketplace for accredited investors to track independent film projects online. He also teaches "The Future of Film" class to graduate film and business students at New York University's Tisch School, affiliated with The Cinema Research Institute. He is also a strategic advisor in Slated's international expansion plans. Colin was an award-winning Editor in Chief in Screen International, the leading publication business authority on the international film industry. He has also been Contributing Editor at CNBC Business. He launched the essential news service Screen
Daily in 2000, and presided over the publication's push into film industry conferences targeted at global dealmakers and financiers. As a Film Critic, Colin has been invited on numerous film festival juries including that of the Sundance Film Festival 2009. Colin remains a longstanding industry consultant for the Dubai International Film Festival.

Abdallah Al Shami
A Lebanese National who was born and raised in Abu Dhabi, Abdallah is a Multimedia and Graphic Design graduate from the American University of Sharjah. With a short stint in two global advertising agencies, Young & Rubicam and Wunderman, Abdallah was introduced to the world of bespoke and niche luxury publication throughDar Dubai Printing and Publishing, with their eponymous luxury and lifestyle publication, Jumeirah BeachMagazine. Later on, the same management behind what was considered the Middle East's best luxury publication set out to publish Abu Dhabi's first bilingual culture, art and design publication, Shawati' Magazine. Under Shawati' Publishing, and with the guidance and creative vision of its inceptor, Abdallah had the honour and privilege of working with international liaisons to help build cultural bridges between Abu Dhabi and the world, be it through the magazine, special publishing projects and public cultural initiatives.