“Alao” star Mina Massoud has revealed the first slate of projects for her company Pressplay Productions, which aims to bridge the gap between Hollywood and the Middle East and North Africa.
With offices in Dubai and Los Angeles, Pressplay was founded by Masoud and producing partner Ali Mashaikhi, who heads content development in North America. George Shehta oversees content development in the MENA region.
Massoud, who is of Egyptian heritage, went on to play Aladdin in the Guy Ritchie live-action adaptation of the Disney film. Her other credits include Prime Video’s “Hotel for the Holidays,” the animated feature “Lamia’s Poem,” and the Hulu series “Retaliation.”
The company’s slate includes the Canadian TV series “Evolving Vegan,” as well as the films “In Broad Daylight,” the Stephen King adaptation “The Last King” and the festival title “Spaceman.”
Bell Media’s original series “Evolving Vegan” is set to debut in Canada this spring on Bell Media’s CTV Life channel and SVOD service Crave. This is a six-part food, travel and adventure series that explores the exploding plant-based food scene across North America, including Los Angeles, Portland, Austin, Mexico City, Toronto and Vancouver. Masood and Ali Mashaikhi executive produce for the press play.
On the film side, the press play is currently in post-production on Massoud’s Arabic-language debut, “In Broad Daylight,” which is slated for a theatrical release later this year. The Egyptian project casts top stars in the MENA region, and centers on a young man who, after leaving his homeland as a young boy, is trained to undertake the most dangerous mission of his life. He returns to Egypt as an agent.
Set for a festival this year is “The Last King,” Stephen King’s first work to be adapted entirely into a foreign language. The timely short film, which is in Persian, is set in Iran and depicts the country’s ongoing “Women, Life, Freedom” revolution. It features Iranian-American actors such as international comedian Maz Gibrani and Apple TV star Sheila Omi.
Meanwhile, heading to a festival run is “Spaceman,” directed by Dan Abramovic, and starring Massoud, JK Simmons, and one of Canada’s best-known mimes, Trevor Cope. “Spaceman” is a shortened version of the upcoming feature written and directed by Abramozzi, and produced by Masoud and Mashaikhi.
Pressplay Productions was established to meet the growing need for diverse stories and content, particularly from MENA, which is comprised of fast-growing entertainment industries. The international expansion of streaming services like Netflix in MENA has provided more commission opportunities for companies like Pressplay.
“In the 1970s, Egypt had the third largest film industry in the world and is fostering a rich and thriving industry for the entire region,” said Masoud.
“Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, and now Saudi Arabia are breeding grounds for some of the best content in and around the African continent. Pressplay will be a driving force in bringing these stories to the West. We have this year. And there are some really exciting projects to be released in the pipeline and I’m excited to be bridging the gap between the MENA region and Hollywood.
Masood is represented by Garrish, LINK Entertainment, Viewpoint and attorney Derek Krueger of Memon, Greenspan, Fox, Rosenberg, Mobser, Younger & Light.
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