'Catsaway': Animated film about Abu Dhabi's stray cats finds new producer in Image Nation

The film has been in the works since 2018 and now has a release date of 2022

Catsaway, an animated feature film that tells the story of stray cats in Abu Dhabi, has attracted new producers to help push the film to completion.

Image Nation Abu Dhabi announced on Tuesday that it is now a co-production partner, alongside Tent Pictures Productions, for the film, which is the first fully animated feature produced and set in the UAE capital. The film company stated that it is now collating the frames and undertaking voice recordings for the film in the twofour54 media hub.

Directed by Emirati filmmaker Fadel Saeed Al Muhairi, Catsaway is set in Abu Dhabi in 1999 and revolves around stray cats that seek a home in the rapidly progressing city. Set against the backdrop of the city at the turn of the century, the film aims to take audiences on a nostalgic trip though old landmarks such as the Volcano Foundation, Old Souq and Clock Tower.

Speaking to The National in 2018, Al Muhairi said he hoped the "nostalgia value" would serve as a magnet for audiences. "This is our selling point. Everyone was like 'amazing. When's this out? We need to tell our kids about it'. You might say 'so what? It's just an old water fountain, just an old souq,' but it's more than that. It's to do with culture intertwined with history. That weird effect you get when you see somewhere that you remember from high school."

In a recent statement, Al Muhairi highlighted the importance of incorporating diverse voices into the story, told in Arabic. "We have an incredible team of Emirati, Sudanese, Iraqi, Lebanese, Saudi Arabian and Egyptian voice actors showcasing the Arab world's diverse dialects," he said. The score has also been written and composed by Emirati lyricists.

Production for Catsaway has been in the works since 2018, the same year Tent Pictures Productions released a trailer for the film. Tent Pictures was founded by Al Muhairi, and partners Mohamad M Numan, and Mohamad Jawad at twofour54 in 2013.

With the latest boost in funding, the film is now set to be released in 2022. It forms part of Abu Dhabi’s drive to build a robust media industry in the country, having spent $100 million on production for various film projects since the beginning of the year.

"Image Nation is always looking for projects that speak to today's society in a creative and entertaining way. Catsaway achieves this by celebrating diversity and coexistence right here in the UAE's capital," Hana Kazim, manager of local film and television at Image Nation, said in a statement.

Image Nation recently released two feature films in the region, namely Scales by Saudi director Shahad Ameen, which began screening in November, and Bloodline by Rami Yasin, currently on a regional streaming platform.