Zainab Shaheen Set to Direct Adaptation of Book Series ‘Mountain Boy’ (EXCLUSIVE)

CEO of Desert Rose Films Nancy Paton has joined forces with Meredith Brett of Flying Tiger Entertainment to produce a family-friendly adaptation of Michele Ziolkowski’s children’s book trilogy “The Boy Who Knew the Mountains,” to be titled “Mountain Boy.”

The project is supported by Creative City Fujairah and the Abu Dhabi Film Commission. Emirati filmmaker Zainab Shaheen (“Journey of Hope,” “Dates to Mars”) is set to direct, with Paton co-authoring the screenplay and Miranda Davidson attached as casting director.

The film will follow the adventures of Suhail, a young boy who lives alone in the mountains of Fujairah due to the local villagers’ lack of understanding of his differences. The story combines Ziolkowski’s own experiences of raising a son on the spectrum, and her memories of life in a small mountain village in the United Arab Emirates. The film will aim to celebrate the little-depicted natural majesty of the UAE, showcasing the landscape, culture and values of the Emirati people, while also dealing with the ripples of climate change.

“I am proud of everything ‘Mountain Boy’ stands for,” said Paton. “It celebrates neurodiversity, showcasing the incredible landscape and authentic culture of the UAE. Suhail’s adventures take him across the country and through a series of uniquely Emirati vistas, from charcoal mountains to the desert, beaches and mangroves of this beautiful and diverse country.”

Brett added: “It’s also not possible to look at the natural world, and our relationship to it without facing the reality of climate change, and this project aims to do that in a way that is accessible and engaging for audiences of all ages.”

“Mountain Boy” plans to premiere at next year’s UN Climate Change Conference COP28 hosted in the UAE, further highlighting the film’s environmental themes. Production is set to begin in early 2023, and is expected to provide local crews with training in independent production.

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