Saudi film Hajjan, about a young boy and his renegade camel who go on the run, will have its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
Directed by Egyptian filmmaker Abu Bakr Shawky – who made a splash with his drama Yomeddine at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018 – the big-budget film is a co-production between Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture, known as Ithra, and acclaimed Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy's Film Clinic.
Hajjan tells the story of Matar who becomes a camel jockey in order to avenge the death of his brother who is killed on the racetrack. But circumstances soon force him to make a run for his life, with his trusted camel as company.
“With Hajjan, we aimed to tell a touching story about the bond between a boy and his camel. Camels are often misunderstood creatures that hold a special place in our hearts, and we wanted to convey this message with the help of a pan-Arab crew experienced in international projects,” Majed Z Samman, the head of performing arts and cinema at Ithra says.
“Going the extra mile, we also contributed to the development of the next generation of Saudi filmmakers by integrating aspiring Saudi talent within the international crew working on Hajjan. Through these efforts, we aspire to strengthen the film industry in Saudi Arabia and share our rich culture and stories with a global audience.”
Samman, who came up with the concept, is also credited as producer in the film. Saudi Arabia's Mufarrij Almajfel and Egypt's Omar Shama wrote the screenplay, with visual effects by Chadi Abo. Multiple award-winning French composer Amine Bouhafa designed the score.
Hajjan was shot extensively in Saudi Arabia's picturesque Tabuk region.
Cast members include Abdulmohsen Al Nemer, Ibrahim Al Hasawi and newcomers Tuleen Barbood and Omar Alatawi, who will also be seen in Desert Warrior, starring Anthony Mackie and Sir Ben Kingsley.
Tiff runs from September 7 to 17. Among the films making their world premieres this year are Craig Gillespie's GameStop drama Dumb Money, starring Paul Dano and Pete Davidson; Ellen Kuras's Lee, in which Kate Winslet takes on the role of war photographer Lee Miller and Tony Goldwyn's Ezra, with Robert De Niro and Rose Byrne.