May 28, 2024

MAD Solutions has acquired world sales rights to OSN’s first-ever original feature, “Yellow Bus,” which world premiered at the Toronto Film Festival.

As well as world sales, MAD Solutions will handle Middle East and North Africa theatrical distribution, while OSN will handle all other MENA rights. Sikhya Entertainment will handle distribution in the Indian subcontinent.

In U.S. filmmaker Wendy Bednarz’s feature debut, an Indian woman living in the Arabian Gulf embarks on a search for truth and accountability after her daughter is left to die on a school bus in the sweltering desert heat.

The film stars Syrian actress Kinda Alloush, alongside Indian star Tannishtha Chatterjee, who was nominated for best actress at the British Independent Film Awards for “Brick Lane,” as well as fellow prominent Indian actor Amit Sial, who is known for the series “Inside Edge,” and Aarushi Laud, who plays the daughter.

The film is produced by Jordanian producer and founder of Screen Project Productions Nadia Eliewat.

The film was lensed by French Tunisian cinematographer Sofian El-Fani, who won the César Award for Oscar nominated “Timbuktu.” El-Fani’s other notable works include “Blue Is the Warmest Color” and “It Must Be Heaven” — both of which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

Bednarz told Variety: “Even before I decided to make the film, I really questioned my own positionality in terms of, who am I to actually make this film about these people who are not from my cultural background?”

“I’m from the U.S.; I grew up on the West Coast. So, going into it, I was really eyes-wide-open that I had to do a lot of research and be really thorough and align myself with people in the know who would help me [and] whose own cultural background would reflect the story itself. The main thing for me is that through the research and the collaboration, the story, moment to moment, would be authentic.”

MAD Solutions’ co-founders Alaa Karkouti and Maher Diab said: “Wendy Bednarz’s intentions in making the film were to provide a voice to the myriad of people who are marginalized, ignored, or face unconscious prejudice in the tightly-knit, constructed, socio-economic fabric of Middle Eastern societies, as well as amplify themes of alienation and connection, which is why we did not hesitate to acquire ‘Yellow Bus.’”

Bednarz wrote and directed the featurette documentary “Burning Money” (2018) and several narrative shorts as well, including “Leaving Gussie” (2007), “On Crystal” (2010), and “Aurora” (2000).

Eliewat is best known for producing and co-writing the Lebanese box-office hit “Solitaire” (2016) and the Jordanian film “When Monaliza Smiled” (2012). Eliewat is also the co-writer and producer of Sara Ishaq’s Yemeni feature “The Station,” which has received support from the Hubert Bals Fund, the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, the Jordan Film Fund and DFI. The film was also selected for the prestigious L’Atelier Program at the Cannes Film Festival in 2020.

She is also producing “Drowning” and “Mecca, Berlin” — two projects in development by Saudi writer-director Mujtaba Saeed — the latter of which was selected at the 2023 Red Sea Lodge.

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