Mideast Distributor Front Row Acquires ‘Within Sand,’ First Saudi Feature to Shoot in Neom

Front Row Filmed Entertainment, the Dubai-based distributor, has secured all Middle East and North African rights to Saudi Arabian feature Within Sand.

The feature from director Moe Alawai recently had its world premiere at Saudi’s Red Sea Film Festival, where it won the jury prize, and marks the second Saudi film Front Row has acquired from the festival — which ran Dec. 1-10 — after recently picking up Abdullah Al Arak’s Sattar, produced by local powerhouse Telfaz11. Within Sand also marks the first Saudi film to be shot in Neom, the much-hyped mega-city currently being constructed in the northwest of the country.

Backed by the Saudi Film Commission, Neom- and Riyadh-based production company Alsarid Films, Within Sand tells the story of Snam, a 23-year-old tobacco merchant who breaks away from his trading convoy in order to get home quickly to his village, where his wife is about to have their first child. Now traveling alone, he’s ambushed by thieves who leave him for dead. His journey becomes a quest to survive, with the added threat of a wolf dogging his footsteps. Tormented by his memories, he struggles to hold on to his sanity in this vast, lonely, but also inspiring wilderness. The film stars an all-Saudi cast led by Ra’ed Alshammari, Adwa Fahd, Muhand Alsaleh, Fatima Alsharif and Obaid Alwadaani, while a real-life wolf was brought on set for added authenticity.

“We’re delighted to be working with the Within Sand team for the film’s release,” said Front Row CEO Gianluca Chakra. “We’re eager to support young Saudi filmmakers and Within Sand is the perfect example of the quality of work that they can deliver. It’s a visually stunning piece of work that deserves to be seen on the big screen.” 

The film will be released theatrically in Saudi Arabia by Front Row Arabia, a joint venture between the company and local exhibitor Muvi Cinemas, and across the rest of the region by Front Row in the first quarter of 2023.

“When the film premiered at the Red Sea Film Festival, we were pleased with the response from the local audience,” said Within Sand producer Reem Alatawi. “They felt connected to the film through authentic details, the dialect and the realistic vocabulary. It has been an exciting journey that has spanned more than three years, and we are delighted to be collaborating with Front Row to bring what we have all worked on over these years to audiences throughout the MENA region.”

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