By Simon Dang | The Playlist February 14, 2011 at 2:48AM
Here is our first look at Antonio Banderas in Jean-Jacques Annaud's upcoming adaptation of Hans Reusch’s "The Great Thirst," which is being touted as the biggest Arab-backed film production of all time.
The epic tale will follow the '30's-set rivalry between two Emirs in Arabia just as oil is being discovered while a young dynamic leader begins to attempt uniting the various tribes of the desert kingdoms. The film sees Banderas will play Nessib, one of the two rival Emirs, Mark Strong as his counterpart Amar, Tahar Rahim as Strong's son Prince Auda, Freida Pinto as Banderas' daughter Princess Lallah, Riz Ahmed as Auda's half brother Dr. Ali and Liya Kebeda as a slave girl.
Menno Meyjes ("Empire Of The Sun," "Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade") scripted the adaptation outlined by Annaud and Alain Godard, with lensing still taking place. Having shot since October in Tunisia, where it was actually caught up the recent Jasmin Revolution, the production recently moved to Qatar where they will "shoot battles scenes for four weeks in the desert dunes of Mesaieed."
"I am delighted to have started filming in Qatar," producer Tarak Ben Ammar announced. "We are filming in some of the world's most stunning desert landscapes and that will help 'Black Gold' look even more spectacular. Also, filming here gives me the opportunity to support and encourage the Doha Film Institute's vision of building a sustainable film infrastructure in the country."
A Christmas 2011 release is reportedly being eyed. A recent behind-the-scenes video was also seen on CNN where the lavish sets and expansive nature of the film are clearly evident. [ScreenDaily/AMEinfo/WDEF]