Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy’s production shingle Film Clinic –– at Venice with “Amira,” Mohamed Diab’s drama about Palestinian children conceived behind bars with smuggled sperm –– is getting a financial boost that will triple its resources just as two new film and TV projects go into production.
Film Clinic is having an outstanding festival presence this year. They recently took the top Cannes Critics’ Week nod with Omar El Zohairy’s “Feathers,” and are now in the Venice Horizons section with “Amira” (pictured); it will soon be in Toronto with Hany Abu-Assad’s “Huda’s Salon.”
Now the company will have the financial muscle to take things to the next level thanks a new partner, government-affiliated outfit Ergo, which is taking a 49% stake in Film Clinic, while Hefzy and other partners will retain control of the remaining 51%.
Hefzy underlined that while the seed money comes from a government bank, the company is private, managed by Egyptian private equity fund NI Capital, which is the investment arm of Egypt’s National Investment Bank.
Film Clinic, which besides its film and TV production core business also has a separate film distribution side, is now being restructured under a single Abu Dhabi-based holding company.
“The investment is going to help foster our production, development, as well as our distribution activity,” said Hefzy, adding that “it will triple our resources, given that there is equity investment and also credit facility that we can tap into.”
When it comes to negotiating with streaming giants, having broader shoulders means that Film Clinic will be able “to have more control over the IP that we are producing,” since “to do that you need capital,” rather than just be “executive producers.” They recently made Arabic supernatural drama “Paranormal” for Netflix.
On the big-screen side, Film Clinic is going to continue to balance its slate between star-driven commercial films for the local market and the more prestige titles for the international market that it’s been taking to festivals.
In terms of new movies, shooting will start in a week on feature “Cairo Mecca,” directed by Hani Khalifa (“Sleepless Nights”) about the many struggles of women in Egyptian society. Pic stars Mona Zaki, who will also soon be seen in the Arabic adaptation of hit Italian dramedy “Perfect Strangers,” on which Film Clinic is a co-producer. There are also two smaller films by first-time Egyptian female directors, still being kept under wraps.
On the series side, Hefzy said Film Clinic is in production on “Bimbo,” a “noirish comedy show set in Cairo” co-directed by Amr Salama (“Paranormal”) and Omar Roushdy. The show is commissioned by MBC’s Shahid VIP streaming platform. They also have two other series projects in development with top streamers, one of which for Genomedia.