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Emirati Filmmaker Nayla Al Khaja To Begin International Journey With ‘The Alexandria Killings’

The serial killer series delves into the intricacies of life on the fringes of a male-dominated society.

With Oscar-winning writer-director Terry George on board her newest project, Nayla Al Khaja’s work is about to get international recognition. Created by Al Khaja, widely dubbed as the first female filmmaker in the UAE, “The Alexandria Killings” is a work revolving around the true tale of two Egyptian serial killing sisters, which George is helping turn into a series.

While Al Khaja has been named one of the Executive Producers and may get to direct some of the episodes, George, who is behind movies like “Hotel Rwanda” and “In the Name of the Father,” will lend his creative hand to the project about death and duplicity in early 20th century Egypt. Joining him as a co-writer is Mariam Naoum, (“Between Two Seas” and “One-Zero”) the Egyptian who has been applauded for her efforts to change perceptions about women in her homeland.

Mariam Naoum

Her first step into the international arena will give Al Khaja, who established Nayla Al Khaja Films, The Scene Club and D-SEVEN Motion Pictures, the chance to sell other projects to big names in the field and shine the light on more interesting stories from the Middle East. And for the director/producer it is important to be able to share these Middle Eastern narratives around the world from a regional perspective.

Terry George

“Through the power of storytelling, I think you can break a lot of stereotypes and given the Middle East is a very controversial area of the world, I hope that this series and others will humanise the area and bring a better understanding of our region to the world,” the Ryerson University Filmmaking graduate told “AEWorld.”

Al Khaja was thrown into the limelight when she became the Best Emirati Filmmaker winner at the 2006 Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) for her “Unveiling Dubai” documentary. The talent also nabbed the Muhr Emirati Award at the 2010 edition of the festival for her short film “Malal.” Another short film, “The Neighbor,” was awarded Best Emirati Film at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Film Festival, while “Animal” won the Jury Special Prize for “Best Short Fiction” at the 9th Italian Movie Award in 2017. Also a motivational speaker, Al Khaja is known for her commitment to develop the UAE’s film industry and her activism for women in cinema.

About “The Alexandria Killings”
“The Alexandria Killings” has backing from Middle East-based production company Yalla Yalla, which was founded by distributor Front Row Filmed Entertainment and Rocket Science. And it will form the first part of a MENA-based true crime anthology series set in various periods and locations within the Arab world.

The series, set in 1920 Alexandria, will be shot predominantly in Arabic, with English to reflect the British rule Egypt was under during that time. It chronicles the true story of sisters Raya and Sakina Bint Hammam. The siblings, who grew up in poverty, made a new life for themselves by running a glamorous brothel operation. Frequented by powerful and influential Egyptian and British officers, informants and statesmen, the Hammams’ infamous set-up became a hub for secrets, intelligence sharing and criminal conspiracies at its peak. However, when profits started to falter, the siblings started relying more and more on petty crime, leading to the murder of 17 women. They were eventually put on trial and became the first females in the Arab world to be sentenced to death, causing a massive social outcry and debate about whether they were cold-blooded killers or victims.

Producers: Gianluca Chakra, Thorsten Schumacher, Terry George and Hisham AlGhanim.
Executive Producers: Michela Scolari (represented by Larry Hummel) and Nayla Al Khaja (represented by Adel Nu) 

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