The project has received support from El Gouna Film Festival, the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, the Doha Film Institute and Red Sea fund.
MAD Solutions, in partnership with Lagoonie Film Production, has acquired worldwide sales and distribution rights for Thank You for Banking With US! The film, currently in pre-production, is a female empowerment drama directed by Laila Abbas, according to a report by Variety.
Lagoonie Film Production, the Cairo-based production entity that has partnered with MAD Solutions on a number of previous projects, is set to co-produce Thank You for Banking With US!
Laila Abbas’ debut feature explores the story of two sisters, Mariam and Noura, navigating life in the aftermath of their father’s passing. Upon discovering a substantial inheritance left by their father, the sisters devise an elaborate plan to secure the funds before their brother, who is legally entitled to half of the inheritance, finds out about their father’s death.
Thank You for Banking With US! is a collaborative production involving Germany, Palestine, and Qatar. Laila Abbas, of Ramallah-based Young Oak Productions, serves as the writer, director, and producer. Hanna Atallah, founder and artistic director of Palestine Cinema Days, and Roshanak Behesht Nedjad, of Berlin-based In Good Company Films (IGC), are co-producers.
The film has received support thus far from the El Gouna Film Festival in 2018 through three $10,000 grants from ART, Cedars Productions, and O Three Productions, respectively. It also won the In-Development Award from the CineGouna Platform and was supported by the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC), as well as the Doha Film Institute’s 2023 edition of the Qumra Initiative.
The film has also secured funding from the Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, and the Hubert Bals Plus Europe. Furthermore, the project was one of the winners of the Red Sea Fund’s third cycle.
A 2019 Berlinale Talents alumnus, Laila Abbas is a Palestinian filmmaker and academic who studied cinema in Jordan and then film & TV production at Royal Holloway University in the UK with a Said Foundation Scholarship.
Commenting on the worldwide acquisition of her title, Abbas said: “Teaming up with MAD Solutions will give the project the exposure it needs and deserves. We’re excited about this collaboration and we’re sure that with MAD Solutions, the film will make its way to the right audiences.”
In a joint statement, Atallah and Behesht Nedjad stated: “Cinema means new perspectives and unusual narratives. Thank You for Banking With US! manages to cinematically realize tough themes like loss, oppression, and the struggle for equality in a sensitive and at the same time unfiltered and cheeky way.”
Atallah also stressed that MAD Solutions and Lagoonie Film Production were the right partners for this endeavour.
He added: “We have many years of experience cooperating with the company in terms of distributing in Palestine and the region, and MAD Solutions are definitely one of the forward-striving companies in the industry supporting young and promising voices in our region. We are also very happy to partner up with Lagoonie, who in the last few years have become a major player in the Arab industry, producing many key, boundary-pushing films.”
MAD Solutions co-founders Alaa Karkouti and Maher Diab stressed that the company’s vision has always been to tell the untold stories of this side of the world, which are often overlooked or misrepresented in Western outlets.
“Inheritance laws in the Middle East and how women’s rights tie into them has always been a major topic of contention, and the discourse surrounding it has recently been reinvigorated,” explained Karkouti and Diab.
They added: “Disputes and sibling rivalries are often quite common after the death of a family member. At a time when all should be grieving and seeking to heal from a tragic loss, many choose to exacerbate the trauma by discussing finances. Thank You for Banking With US! picks at the heart of this issue, and it does it in a fresh and perhaps daring way that we believe can add something to the current discourse.”
Shahinaz El-Akkad — Founder of Lagoonie Film Production — emphasised that this film fits right within her core values. “Part of Lagoonie’s mission from the very beginning has been to support and champion female-led and directed independent Arab films, and we are proud to work on the debut feature by a special filmmaker like Laila Abbas.”