Hani Abu-Assad, the acclaimed Dutch-Palestinian director of Oscar-nominated “Paradise Now” and “Omar”, broke the new ground of “Hooda Saloon”, which had its world premiere in September in Toronto in the Competitive Platform category.
The title of the female-led thriller spy thriller is Maisa Abd Alhadi (“The Angel”), who plays Reem, a young mother who falls into a trap while watching Huda (Manal Awad, a hair salon run by “Baghdad Central”), a The seemingly friendly woman is working for the Israeli Secret Service. When blackmailed by the Israeli secret service, Rim has to deal with her controlling husband and a Palestinian resistance agent (Ali Suleiman, “Paradise Now”) who suspect her of being a traitor.
“Hood’s Saloon” marks Helmer’s follow-up to Fox’s “The Mountains Between” with Kate Winslet and Idris Elbar. Abu-Assad co-produced the film with his wife, Amira Diab, with their recently launched banner H&A Productions, Film Clinic and Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzi, who runs the Cairo Film Festival at Palestine Films.
Memento Films International is managing international sales with executive productions of Emily Georges and Matthew Delauni. The IFC has U.S. rights.
Abu-Assad said the idea for the “hood saloon” came after discussions with his wife “about the real story of Palestine.”
“I told him that I had heard the story of a saloon that was corrupting people to work in the Secret Service and the next day I came up with the whole story of these two women. My wife’s response was, ‘Well, it’s already been written,’ and she was spot on, ”Abu-Assad said.
The Race-A-The-Clock movie is built as a two-handed, directed by two female heroes, Reem and Huda, while the action is in a paired position in a short time.
Abu-Assad says that instead of a flashback that slows down the suspense, he decides that “Rim Hooda will portray the current release of the flashback; one character is above ground and the other below, but both are stuck.”
He shot the film in 17 days and said he shot each scene in one piece “to give viewers a sense that they are part of the character life of their time and place,” as well as “play thematic and objective camera style” at the same time. “
Abu-Assad said, “My previous movies were shot in 30 to 40 days with big budget and crew but the limited resources of this film forced us to be innovative.”
Although “Hooda Saloon” is not as politically charged as some of his previous films, Abu-Assad says the film calls into question our “responsibility” and “awareness.” “We all know that politics is bad and profession is bad. But what is our responsibility and what can we do to spread awareness within the society. I believe a girl like Reem can fall into that trap because some parts of our society are not safe, ”Abu-Assad said.
The most political aspect of “Hooda Saloon” is the depiction of Reem’s oppressive marriage. The place of women in Palestinian society is seen on a larger scale.
The director says he wanted to explore “gender inequality” in the film. “I’m about 5 likes, and when I was 1, I started to understand the difference between men and women – women often say they want to be equal to men but I think men should aspire to be equal to women because they are so brave. And know the value of life well. ”
Ultimately, the central theme of “Hooder Salon” is the connection between betrayal and loyalty. “I believe there can be no loyalty without betrayal. If there is no evil and there is no good, then good has no meaning, they can change according to the right situation, “Abu-Assad said.
Abd Elhadi, also known for Ariel Vramen’s Netflix show “The Angel” and Arab and Tarzan Nasser’s 2021 Palestinian Oscar entry “Gaza, love the mind”, has presented fearless and emotional performances in the movie. He’s in almost every scene, many of which are close-ups.
“An actress needed to be so brave, to be emotionally naked, not just physically naked, and I knew she could be the only actress,” Abu-Assad said. The director pointed out that the move for the film was “an adventure in itself”.
“In our society, it is very brave for an actor to dare to be naked. I think she is the first Palestinian actress to do this. He was also incredibly brave in every possible way, ”the director said.
The award plays a complex role in weaving comedy and tragedy. “We don’t have a star in Palestine and he’s one, he’s starred in a very popular TV series and he’s very funny, very lively; Everyone loves him; I thought this would be an explosive combination to keep a funny character in a hiccup.
Subsequently, Abu-Assad will work on various international projects, including “Infidel”, a transformation of the popular comic book by Trister Pictures, which was removed during the epidemic. The director said the film is in advanced development. Abu-Assad is working with his wife on “The Wife of the Kings”, an ambitious series about a fictional Middle Eastern state, the French production banner Hout at Court TV (“The Returned,” “Possession”), and prominent Lebanese producer Georges Schকেcker.