Oscar Hopeful Dania Bdeir Lands Producers for Debut Feature 'Pigeon Wars'

MARRAKECH  — Lebanese producer Pierre Sarraf from Né à Beyrouth Films and Sahar Yousefi (“Play, Rewind, Play”) at Canada’s Nava Projects have boarded one of the most buzzed about titles at the Atlas Workshops industry and mentoring platform at the Marrakech Film Festival. The Atlas Workshops opens its doors today.

“Pigeon Wars” marks the first feature from the Canadian-Lebanese filmmaker and Oscar hopeful, Dania Bdeir, whose gender-defying short film “Warsha” has won over 60 awards –  three of which are Oscar qualifying, at Sundance, Outfest and Tokyo’s Short Shorts.  The film is currently shortlisted for the 2023 César Awards.

Sarraf is producing the feature with Yousefi serving as the co-production partner. Ne a Beyrouth Films was also a producer on  “Warsha,” which follows a Syrian migrant working as a crane operator at a construction site in Beirut who has a secret passion.

In “Pigeon Wars,” Rana, 20, a competitive young woman trying to avoid a difficult secret from her past, becomes obsessed with conquering the male-dominated pigeon wars of Beirut. With the help of Hassan, a kindred spirit with an inner struggle of his own, she embarks on a mission to catch a rare bird, the Nicobar.

Said Bdeir: “‘Pigeon Wars¡ is about liberating ourselves of whatever internal shackles that prevent us from moving forward and growing. Just like the pigeons they train, Hassan and Rana can spread their wings and conquer the skies. It’s about daring to fly free but also having the choice to go home.”

“Pigeon Wars” has so far received development financing from Telefilm Canada.  It was selected for the Torino Film Lab x DFI Hezaya Screenwriting Lab, Cine Qua Non Storylines, and Le Groupe Ouest. It is now looking for a French co-producer. 

Born in Beirut, Sarraf is one of the founders of Né à Beyrouth Films, a film development and production company. 

He’s also working on creating what he calls the first “global Arab series,”

Gilbert Karam’s “Status Quo.” Its story revolves around a group of teenage girls who mistakenly kidnap the son of a corrupt political bigwig. It was written, said Karam, as “a tribute to the victims of Beirut Blast and to all the victims of injustice in the world.”

The series won the DFI Development Fund and the Paramount+ Storytellers Award for best pitch at June’s Conecta Fiction in Spain.

Sarraf’s recent features as a co-producer include “Capernaum,” a Jury Prize winner at Cannes 2018 which snagged Oscar and Bafta nominations). Bdeir is managed by Anonymous Content.  The Atlas Workshops runs Nov. 14-17.

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