As was announced on Variety last week, after the international sales success of the Cannes-selected title GOODBYE JULIA, MAD Solutions and Lagoonie Film Production have acquired the worldwide sales and distribution rights for Laila Abbas’ highly-anticipated female empowerment drama, THANK YOU FOR BANKING WITH US!, which is currently in pre-production.
Already the world’s leading distributor of Arabic-language films, MAD Solutions has become increasingly involved in the production and packaging of international feature projects, taking worldwide rights to several high-profile films. Lagoonie Film Production, the Cairo-based production entity that has partnered with MAD Solutions on a number of previous projects, is set to co-produce THANK YOU FOR BANKING WITH US!
Abbas’ feature-length debut follows the sibling story of Mariam and Noura in the aftermath of their father’s death. After finding out that he left a huge sum of money behind, the sisters come up with an elaborate scheme to abscond with the money before their brother — who is legally entitled to half the inheritance — finds out about their father’s death.
The film, a joint production between Germany, Palestine and Qatar, is written, directed, and produced by Laila Abbas of Ramallah-based Young Oak Productions, and co-produced by Hanna Atallah, founder and artistic director of Palestine Cinema Days, and Roshanak Behesht Nedjad through her Berlin-based production outfit, In Good Company Films (IGC).
THANK YOU FOR BANKING WITH US! has received support thus far from the El Gouna Film Festival in 2018 through three $10,000 grants from ART, Cedars Productions, and O Three Productions, respectively. It also won the In-Development Award from the CineGouna Platform and was supported by the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC), as well as the Doha Film Institute’s 2023 edition of the Qumra Initiative.
The project received additional funding from the Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, and the Hubert Bals Plus Europe. The film was one of the winners of the Red Sea Fund’s third cycle as well.
A 2019 Berlinale Talents alumnus, Laila Abbas is a Palestinian filmmaker and academic who studied cinema in Jordan and then film & TV production at Royal Holloway University in the UK with a Said Foundation Scholarship. In 2013, she released her acclaimed film ICE & DUST then worked as an instructor at the Institute of Modern Media at Alquds University.
Commenting on the worldwide acquisition of her title, Abbas said: “Teaming up with MAD Solutions will give the project the exposure it needs and deserves. We're excited about this collaboration and we're sure that with MAD Solutions, the film will make its way to the right audiences.”
Meanwhile, Hanna Atallah is a filmmaker, producer, and cultural art manager who divides his time between Berlin and Jerusalem. He created and founded Filmlab: Palestine in 2014 in Ramallah with the goal of empowering unheeded Palestinian voices through cinema. He’s best known for producing the acclaimed Muayad Alayan films, THE REPORTS ON SARAH AND SALEEM and A HOUSE IN JERUSALEM — both of which participated in the International Film Festival Rotterdam.
Roshanak Behesht Nedjad began working in the film industry as a festival coordinator and production manager before co-founding IGC with Jani Thiltges and Claude Waringo in 2014.
“Cinema means new perspectives and unusual narratives,” noted Atallah and Behesht Nedjad in a joint statement. “THANK YOU FOR BANKING WITH US! manages to cinematically realize tough themes like loss, oppression, and the struggle for equality in a sensitive and at the same time unfiltered and cheeky way.”
Atallah also stressed that MAD Solutions and Lagoonie Film Production were the right partners for this endeavor.
“We have many years of experience cooperating with the company in terms of distributing in Palestine and the region, and MAD Solutions are definitely one of THE forward-striving companies in the industry supporting young and promising voices in our region,” he said. “We are also very happy to partner up with Lagoonie, who in the last few years have become a major player in the Arab industry, producing many key, boundary-pushing films.”
MAD Solutions co-founders Alaa Karkouti and Maher Diab stressed that the company’s vision has always been to tell the untold stories of this side of the world, which are often overlooked or misrepresented in Western outlets.
“Inheritance laws in the Middle East and how women’s rights tie into them has always been a major topic of contention, and the discourse surrounding it has recently been reinvigorated,” explained Karkouti and Diab.
“Disputes and sibling rivalries are often quite common after the death of a family member. At a time when all should be grieving and seeking to heal from a tragic loss, many choose to exacerbate the trauma by discussing finances. THANK YOU FOR BANKING WITH US! picks at the heart of this issue, and it does it in a fresh and perhaps daring way that we believe can add something to the current discourse.”
Shahinaz El-Akkad — Founder of Lagoonie Film Production — emphasized that this film fits right within her core values, “Part of Lagoonie's mission from the very beginning has been to support and champion female-led and directed independent Arab films, and we are proud to work on the debut feature by a special filmmaker like Laila Abbas.”