EXCLUSIVE: In a landmark development for Gulf filmmakers, Emirati director Majid Al-Ansari has been signed up by UTA and his debut feature, Rattle The Cage, has been picked up by IM Global for international sales. Cinetic Media has come on-board to rep the domestic rights. The move is a vindication of Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s strategy to support local filmmakers and get their voices heard in the region and internationally. Image Nation fully financed Rattle The Cage and have nurtured Al-Ansari for some time now.

The filmmaker, who has impressed many with his stylish, genre-friendly approach, now stands to emerge as one of the most exciting young Arab filmmakers to watch, along with Naji Abu Nowwar (Theeb), also signed up by UTA, and Lebanese filmmaker Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya, whose debut feature A Very Big Deal just had its world premiere in Toronto.

“The attention Rattle The Cage (Zinzana) is attracting is testament to the strength of the film and Image Nation’s local slate,” commented Image Nation Abu Dhabi chief exec Michael Garin. ” IM Global, Cinetic Media and UTA are the perfect partners to help us debut this film and its talented director, Majid Al Ansari, on the international stage.”

Rattle The Cage, a psychological thriller that displays a Tarantino-esque sensibility, will have its world premiere at the Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas later this month. The film will also have its European premiere at the upcoming BFI London Film Festival in October. The film stars Ali Suliman (Paradise Now) and Saleh Bakri (The Time That Remains) and follows the story of a young man trapped in a prison cell who is forced to play a madman’s game in order to save his family’s lives. Produced by Rami Yasin (From A to B), popular Emirati actors Ali Al Jabri, Abdullah Al Shehhi and Mansoor Al Feeli co-star.

Please see the official trailer above.

Rattle The Cage, known as Zinzana in Arabic, marks the second project that IM Global and Image Nation have teamed up on. Image Nation is also fully financing the feature adaptation of Dave Eggers’ contemporary thriller The Circle starring Tom Hanks, Emma Watson and Star Wars‘ John Boyega. IM Global is handling international sales on the film, which virtually sold at Cannes after it was introduced to buyers. U.S. rights are being jointly repped by UTA and CAA. The film will be presented by Image Nation Abu Dhabi in association with Parkes MacDonald Productions.

Image Nation has been ramping up its film and TV production output over the last year and has a number of new titles in the pipeline including Emirati filmmaker Al Mostafa’s hit comedy drama From A To B, which will have its European premiere at the BFI London Film Festival and Mostafa’s third film Worthy, currently in production. That project is s set in a dystopian future which has been plunged into chaos due to a chronic water shortage. The story follows a small group of survivors seeking refuge with the only clean remaining water source in the area. When two visitors infiltrate their compound, they soon become pawns in a test for survival, where only one of them shall be chosen worthy. Genre experts Peter Safran (The Conjuring) and Steven Schneider (Paranormal Activity) produce alongside Rami Yasin in a mixture of Eastern talent and Western expertise that is a bold precedent for the region.