MBC Studios, the in-house premium content production arm of MBC Group, has commenced production on fantasy-adventure “Rise of the Witches”, the biggest series to be ever produced with a homegrown Saudi cast, and holds the largest ever budget for special effects for a Saudi production. Supported by NEOM, the series is being filmed on three purpose-built studio sets, including Saudi Arabia’s biggest purpose-built backlots to date.
Based on the best-selling Saudi mythology books by Osamah Almuslim, the series, set in ancient Arabia, tells the story of an epic war between two rival witch covens, led by Afsaar and Da’ja’a.
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Growing up in a world dominated by male magicians who want to prevent women from having any access to magical powers, both witches secretly learn the arts and go on to form their own groups in order to protect themselves and gain power.
The predominantly Saudi cast is led by Ida AlKusay and Sumaya Rida. The series is directed by Declan O’Dwyer and Craig Pickles, with production led by Dominic Barlow, with MBC Group’s Zeinab Abu Alsamh as executive producer.
Alsamh said: “ ‘Rise of the Witches’ is a true homegrown production, and features recognizable and new faces, with talent both in front of and behind the cameras coming from our very own MBC Academy and MBC Talent hubs. This series will no doubt make household names of the cast — this outstanding fantasy-adventure is not one to be missed.”
The ten-part series is a Shahid Original and will stream on Shahid later this year.
The new-look Iron Throne, which will be seen in HBO/Sky “Game of Thrones” prequel “House of the Dragon,” has commenced a U.K. tour beginning with the Tower of London. The Iron Throne is the ultimate symbol of conquest, forged from the blades of Aegon Targaryen’s defeated foes after he conquered Westeros. The 12ft by 10ft throne, dressed in Targaryen banners, will tour across other sites in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh through August.
The eagerly awaited prequel will bow on HBO on Aug. 21 and on Sky and streaming service Now from Aug. 22. It will have its physical U.K. premiere at London’s Leicester Square next week.
Jamie East, co-host of Sky Atlantic’s “Thronecast” and “House of the Dragon Premiere Special,” said: “Set 200 years before the events of ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘House of the Dragon’ will transport fans to Westeros at the height of Targaryen rule. We’ll discover an Iron Throne of far greater scale and decadence, made from the warped and melted swords of the Targaryen’s defeated enemies, symbolic of the Targaryen’s huge power and influence at this time.”
Manish Mundra, whose prolific Indian indie producer Drishyam Films has had titles in most major global festivals including Cannes and Busan, has made his directorial debut with hard-hitting feature “Siya.” Starring Pooja Pandey and Vineet Kumar Singh, the film tells the tale of a small-town girl who despite all hurdles, decides to fight the oppressive patriarchy and takes off on a quest for justice.
Mundra said: “ ‘Siya’ sheds light on the hypocrisy behind the crimes countless women endure. The numbers of these crimes are staggering and only seem to be growing with every passing day. We hope to empower women to stand up and speak out with this film. Drishyam Films has always backed cinema that has a notable talking point and sends a message to film goers and ‘Siya’ too will follow suit. We hope that the audience will understand the relevance of our film and will speak out on the same.”
“Siya” will release theatrically across India on Sept. 16.
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