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British-Spanish feature film production BORN A KING has completed production in Saudi Arabia, having wrapped filming in London this summer. Inspired by real events, this historically faithful and ambitious period drama tells the remarkable story of a very young Prince Faisal of Arabia who was dispatched from the deserts of Arabia to London on a high-stakes diplomatic mission. Set in 1919, the feature is a coming-of-age story set against an epic backdrop which provides a timely and fascinating insight into historical and political issues which resonate to this day. Prince Faisal’s mission played a key role in the establishment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
With a budget of over eighteen million euros, BORN A KING is directed by Agustí Villaronga (winner of nine Goya awards, including Best Film in 2010 for ‘Pa negre’, which was selected by the Academy to represent Spain at the Oscars) and boasts a strong, mainly British cast, led by Ed Skrein (Game of Thrones, Deadpool), Hermione Corfield (Mr. Holmes), Laurence Fox (Elizabeth: The Golden Age), Kenneth Cranham (Maleficent) and James Fleet (Sense and Sensibility, Four Weddings and a Funeral). Spanish actor Rubén Ochandiano (Biutiful) also stars and Abdullah Ali makes his cinematic debut in the lead role of Prince Faisal.
BORN A KING signifies a return to feature production for producer Andrés Vicente Gómez, who won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for Belle Époque in 1994. This will be his first film production since the multi Goya nominated As Luck Would Have It in 2011. The Co-Producer is Stuart Sutherland (Celtic Ent.). The script is the work of writer and former national newspaper journalist Henry Fitzherbert (Slaughterhouse Rulez), with the collaboration of Bader Al Samari and the Spanish writer and filmmaker Ray Loriga (Teresa, The Body of Christ, My Brother’s Gun).
On the film, Andrés Vicente Gómez said, “With this film we have made history, not only because it is the first European film shot in Saudi Arabia, but also because we hope to release it in a country where film theatres do not exist at the moment. We hope to raise awareness of the story of King Faisal, a key figure in the history of the Middle East.”
Stuart Sutherland said, “A young Muslim boy came to London to take on the very people in the British establishment who were drawing lines in the sand of the Middle East. It’s a remarkable and very timely story that is almost completely unknown.”
Set in 1919 and based on true events, BORN A KING tells the true story of 14 year old Faisal (Ali), the younger son of the first King of Saudi Arabia, Ibn Saud, who is dispatched from the deserts of Arabia to London by his warrior father on a high stakes diplomatic mission to secure the formation of his country.
In the frenetic post-WWI atmosphere, Faisal (Ali) becomes the first Saudi Royal to visit the UK on a politically perilous trip which lasted five months. There, he must negotiate with some of the pre-eminent figures of the age, including Lord Curzon (Cranham) and Winston Churchill (Celyn Jones), while forming a friendship with Princess Mary (Corfield) who helps guide him through the corridors of power. He is mentored by Harry St. John Philby (Skrein). Faisal ultimately became the hugely popular King of Saudi Arabia (1964-1975), implementing modernisation and reform.
This is the first Western film that is partially shot in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, thanks to the perseverance of producer Andrés Vicente Gómez, who spent four years in negotiations to obtain government permits there. Since the 1980s, cinemas have not been open to the public in Saudi Arabia, but in 2018 the government plans to open several theatres in the country as part of its Vision 2030 program, whose mission is to promote culture and entertainment, as well as focusing on initiatives such as public health, the development of cities and the achievement of environmental sustainability. As the first film offered in cinemas to the Saudi public for over 30 years BORN A KING is set to play a special role in this cultural change, with the premiere taking place in April 2018.
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