Egyptian cinema hasn't been too popular in America, but now there's good news. A production company based out of Cairo called Good News for Film and Music is trying to make Egyptian films that appeal to Western audiences in addition to those in Arab countries. Last year Good News released The Yacoubian Building, which was the most expensive film ever produced in Egypt and was intended to be accessible to moviegoers in Europe and North America. The film has screened at a number of international festivals, including Berlin, Rome and Tribeca, where it won an award for Best New Feature Director, and though it wasn't nominated or even shortlisted for the foreign language Oscar -- it was Egypt's official submission -- it has so far been pretty well received (see Cinematical's review here).

Now Good News is following the success of The Yacoubian Building with a few more high-profile films that should be geared towards and possibly appeal to American audiences. The first is a biopic about Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri and the history of al Qaeda. According to Good News head Adel Adeeb, the plot will focus on the two al Qaeda leaders as they contact an American journalist in order to tell their life stories. This seems likely to be a framing device for a film told in flashback, and the fictional Western filter should make it easier for American audiences to digest the film, which will certainly be controversial no matter how accessible.

Another film that Good News will probably try to market to Americans is the first Arabic film about Sinbad -- the sailor, not the comedian. We've had our share of countless Hollywood versions of Sinbad's voyages, from the silent to the recent DreamWorks animated film featuring the voice of Brad Pitt, and while Douglas Fairbanks Jr. is classic in one adaptation and the Harryhausen effects in some others are awesome, these have all been Americanized depictions of the character, who hailed from Baghdad. This will apparently be the first real, true version of the tales, which originally come from the book "1001 Arabian Nights", filmed by and featuring Arab people. Adeeb says that this new Sinbad film will have an English-language version (probably dubbed) in addition to the Egyptian-language original, so Good News should be able to sell it to Western distributors.