Feature film Shabab Sheyab premiered in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Thursday, November 8, becoming the first GCC film to play in cinemas in the country following the opening of cinemas in the Kingdom this year. Shabab Sheyab premiered at the prestigious Palm Springs International Film Festival in January 2018 to glowing reviews.
Image Nation Abu Dhabi released the film in Riyadh on Thursday along with the full trailer. A star-studded UAE premiere of the film will take place at Atlantis The Palm on November 17, with the full cinema release on November 22.
Directed and written by Yasir Al-Yasiri, the family-friendly movie follows four elderly friends (featuring prominent GCC actors: Saad Al Faraj, Marei Al Halian and Mansoor Al Feeli, alongside Syrian star Salloum Haddad) living in a senior citizens home. When one of them inherits a large fortune, the friends escape for a life-changing adventure in Dubai, encouraged by their doctor and nurse, played by Kuwaiti stars Laila Abdullah and Fouad Ali.
“Shabab Sheyab tells a story of family, friendship and self-discovery that is universally relatable but will particularly appeal to GCC audiences – so it’s very exciting that it will be the first regional film released in Saudi Arabia,” says Yasir Al-Yasiri. “Arabic-language entertainment best reflects the region’s way of life. With an incredible cast and crew from across the Arab world, including the UAE, Kuwait and Syria, regional voices and stories have been at the heart of this project from start to finish.”
Ben Ross, Chief Content Officer at Image Nation Abu Dhabi, said: “Saudi Arabia has launched an ambitious vision for a sustainable and commercially viable film industry, and with 15 million consumers under the age of 25, this is a significant new market for local creativity. Arabic-language entertainment is in high demand among Saudi and GCC audiences, so opening the first regionally-made film in the country is a major milestone and sets the tone for a bright future.”
Image Nation is the studio behind Shabab Sheyab, and the film is produced by Rami Yasin’s Breakout Films and Starship Entertainment - a partnership between Al Yasiri and Al Feeli. Tanweer Films is distributing the film across the MENA region.
Speaking to Digital Studio ME ahead of the release earlier this year, Image Nation CEO Michael Garin said he was optimistic about the film's chances at the box office based on the response the film received at international film festivals.