Oscar-winning Irish screenwriter and director Terry George (In the Name of the Father, Hotel Rwanda) and Egyptian writer Mariam Naoum (Between Two Seas) will co-write a new serial killer series titled The Alexandria Killings, Middle East distributor Front Row Filmed Entertainment announced.
The show will be produced by George as well as Thorsten Schumacher of Rocket Science and Gianluca Chakra of Front Row Filmed Entertainment.
Set in Alexandria in 1920 when Egypt was under British rule, the series tells the real-life story of Egyptian sisters Raya and Sakina Bint Hammam, who came from a poor neighbourhood in Alexandria and ran a brothel that drew in powerful and influential Egyptian and British men. The sisters relied on petty theft that led to the murder of 17 women.
The series will explore the complexities of life on the fringes of a male-dominated society. The Alexandria Killings will be predominantly in Arabic, with some English to reflect the British rule at the time. It is also said the project will be the first of a true-crime anthology series set in different time periods and parts of the Arab world.
“I look forward to collaborating with a truly international team of talented producers and storytellers to investigate the remarkable true story of the Hammam sisters,” George said.
“I am particularly delighted to be working with renowned Egyptian writer Mariam Naoum to tackle subject matter that while containing all the captivating elements of a legendary crime also encompasses global themes of sexism, jealousy, greed and lost love. This will be a thrilling and entertaining journey.”
AAudiences in the Arab world should be familiar with Raya and Sakina, thanks to a 1980s comedy theatrical play based on their story, which starred celebrated Egyptian actresses Shadia and Soheir El Bably. The play was a huge success and is still considered one of the most prominent in Egyptian history.
However, Chakra hopes the show will be a societal exploration into the characters in a way the world has not seen before.
"We see Terry and Mariam forming a strong synergy with their experiences tackling these complex and interesting subject matters; Terry's impactful, award-winning work in landmark award-winning productions and Mariam's powerful resume in Arabic film and TV are a perfect match for The Alexandria Killings."
The series will be produced by Yalla Yalla, a film and television production company in Dubai. It will be executive produced by Hisham Al Ghanim and Michela Scolari, who is represented by Larry Hummel, and Nayla Al Khaja, who is represented by Adel Nur.