The initial lineup of clients features acclaimed filmmakers from the SWANA region.
Former Mister Smith Entertainment executive Antone Saliba has launched Untamed Talent, a new management and production company, backed by the support of Dubai-based Front Row Productions. This venture is a collaborative effort involving Front Row Filmed Entertainment and Empire Entertainment.
Front Row Productions is set to provide both strategic support and capital to support Untamed Talent’s ambitions of pioneering innovative business models within the SWANA region (South West Asia and North Africa). Recognised as the fastest-growing entertainment market globally, the focus extends beyond representing filmmakers from established Middle East industry hubs like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Untamed Talent aims to identify, develop, and promote talent from traditionally underrepresented countries in the region, including Jordan, Morocco, Syria, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Iran. Operating on a non-exclusive basis, the company will collaborate with production and distribution entities in the region, as well as US and international studios and streamers, to maximise opportunities for its clients.
Untamed Talent introduces its initial client roster, featuring award-winning and critically acclaimed writers and directors. Notable talents include Abu Bakr Shawky, director of the Palm D’Or-nominated Yomeddine (2018) and Hajjan (2023); Bassel Ghandour, Academy Award-nominated writer and producer of Theeb (2014) and director of The Alleys (2021); Amjad Al Rasheed, director of the Cannes Film Festival-premiered Inshallah a Boy (2023); Firas Khoury, debut feature director of Alam (2022); Yassmina Karajah, Russo Brothers Fellow and creator of Rupture (2018); Faris Alrjoob, director of the Cannes-premiered short film The Red Sea Makes Me Wanna Cry (2023); and Mayar Al Nouri, creator, writer, and director of an upcoming Arabic language original limited series. Additional clients from the broader region will be unveiled in the coming months.
Speaking about the venture, Antone Saliba said: “At Untamed, we’re combining our understanding of local languages, cultures and stories, with a deep knowledge of the global entertainment business, to elevate the voices from the most innovative players in this region. SWANA filmmakers have previously had to rely solely on the support on European co-production funding and festival selection to find new audiences. Our vision is to fundamentally influence the regional infrastructure and strengthen relationships with international studios, to help filmmakers find additional opportunities to express their unique creative vision. We believe this will allow them to reach wider audiences on a global scale.”
Gianluca Chakra, CEO of Front Row, added: “With the local theatrical and digital market expanding, there is a concrete need for such a venture in order to foster new local talent and compete with the increasingly sophisticated western content audiences are consuming. We saw immediately that Antone’s vision for Untamed Talent fills a gap in the local and broader market. His ability to identify, connect with, and grow bourgeoning new regional talent is critical. Untamed will be instrumental in illuminating untapped opportunities and the key to unlocking them is in championing our deeply diverse SWANA creative talent pool to promote fresh and exciting new voices.”
Mario Haddad Jr, President, Empire International, added: “As producers, we recognize that the wider industry needs a new wave of talent, but we all struggle to find those voices. We believe in collective cooperation in growing the market so what Untamed is bringing to the table will benefit all of the companies and creatives in this region. We’re backing this venture because there is an inherent need and are happy to welcome strategic new partners and broaden Untamed’s pool of unique talent.”