Rattle the Cage: Thriller from Director Majid Al Ansari

Netflix has made its first major Arab-language acquisition, picking up global streaming rights to Rattle the Cage (aka Zinzana), the debut feature from Emirati director Majid Al Ansari.

StudioCanal also snatched theatrical rights for the U.K. and Germany to the psychological thriller, which was produced and financed by Image Nation Abu Dhabi and had its world premiere at last year’s Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas.

Set in a prison in an unknown part of the Arab world, Rattle the Cage stars Ali Suliman (Paradise Now) and Saleh Bakri (The Time That Remains).

The film was one of the highlights of the Dubai Film Fest, where it received a gala screening.

Al Ansari first found it in the database of unproduced screenplays at blacklst.com, which falls under the Black List umbrella, and gave an Arabic twist from Ruckus and Lane Skye’s original English-language script.

Al Ansari, whose only previous directing credit was the sci-fi short The Intruder!, is among the hottest filmmaking from the Middle East.

The Netflix pickup highlights the growing film industry in the United Arab Emirates, backed by local production houses, such as Image Nation Abu Dhabi, which is also financing major international titles, including The Circle, thanks to an ongoing deal with Walter Parkes.

In 2014, Ali F. Mostafa’s road-trip comedy From A to B opened the now-shuttered Abu Dhabi Film Festival and was later picked up by StudioCanal for theatrical release in the U.K.

Netflix signaled its intent to not just buy locally made Arab content but to produce its own regional shows before it launched across the region earlier this year. Speaking in a live video conversation at the Dubai Film Festival, Ted Sarandos said that the global stage needed “a really great scripted series about contemporary life in the Middle East,” highlighting films such as A Separation and Omar as titles that had brought a wider understanding of the region to the West.

“Most depictions outside of the Middle East are either historical or portray caricatures of what life in the Middle East would be,” he added.