Simon West To Shoot Historic Drama ‘Antara’ In Saudi Arabia’s Neom

Con-Air and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider director Simon West will shoot his upcoming historic drama Antara in Saudi Arabia in the country’s growing production hub of Neom.

Based on a true story, the film revolves around Antara ibn Shaddad, an imprisoned warrior who was propelled to stardom in the sixth century, both as a knight and a poet.

The film is co-produced by writer and producer Alexander Amartei and producer Stuart Sutherland (Killing Eve, Born A King, The Man Who Fell To Earth). Sutherland has experience of working in Saudi Arabia, having been a co-producer on the Gerard Butler-starring action picture Kandahar, which also shot in the country.

The production is scheduled to spend 12 weeks at Neom in northwest Saudi Arabia from early 2024.

The film will tap into Neom’s 40% cash rebate for feature films, TV dramas, reality shows, documentaries and commercials. It will be based at Neom’s Bajdah Studios and also makes use of the nearby Red Sea coastline.

 “Bringing the story of Antara ibn Shaddad to the big screen and the masses is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to continue his legend. The life of Antara is one of those relatively little-known true stories that prove that fact can be so much stranger than fiction.” said West.

“The opportunity to film in the homeland of the Banu Abs tribe means we will keep true to the piece whilst helping to grow the emerging film industry in the region. It’s a project I’m thrilled to be involved with and I am looking forward to creating something unique for a global audience.”

Neom Managing Director of Media Industries, Entertainment, and Culture Wayne Borg said the arrival of a big international production like Antara was further evidence of the growing confidence film producers have in Neom.

“They also boost our ecosystem’s development by providing unparalleled work experience opportunities for young Saudis and fast-track the development and growth of the local workforce,” he added.

Productions due to shoot in Neom this fall include MBC’s Exceptional, a TV drama series comprising 200 episodes per year, and Hobal, the Saudi feature film directed by acclaimed Saudi Arabian Abdulaziz Alshlahei.

Two Telfaz features are also due to shoot as part of a previously announced partnership that aims to create up to nine TV and film productions over the next three years.

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