Jefferson Hall Unveiled As Lead Actor In Emirati Director Nayla Al Khaja’s MENA-Set Thriller ‘Three’ As Principal Photography Wraps + First Images
21st June 2023

Jefferson Hall has been announced as the lead actor in Emirati film director and producer Nayla Al Khaja’s psychological thriller Three.

Set in a bustling modern-day Middle Eastern city, the drama revolves around the case of a young boy whose increasingly strange leads his mother to believe he is possessed.

UK actor Hall, whose credits include House of the Dragon, Halloween and Oppenheimer, plays a Western doctor who is consulted by the mother as she tries to get to the bottom of what is wrong with her son.  

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Hall stars alongside a mainly Emirati cast featuring model and actress Faten Ahmed as the mother, Noura Alabed (Wiladah), veteran actor Mari Al Halyan (On Borrowed Time) and newcomer Saud Alzarooni as well as Jordanian actor Mohannad Bin Huthail (Rashash).

Three is Al Khaja’s first feature after a number of well-travelled short films including The Neighbour, Animal and The Shadow.

Al Khaja directed and produced the film and also co-wrote the drama with Ben Williams

The production was filmed in Thailand and the UAE over a period of 24 days, with principal photography wrapping last week. The production has released a raft of first images and behind-the-scenes photos.

Three was produced by Sultan Saeed Al Darmaki, Daniel Zirilli, Jean-Charles Levy, and Nayla Al Khaja, with executive producers spanning Muna Easa Al Gurg, Jefferson Hall, Siddharth Thakker, and Rasik Thakker.

It is being billed as a milestone in the history of UAE Arab cinema for its storyline intertwining a Western character into a story with an Emirati family at its core —a situation that is rarely depicted on film. 

 “I am thrilled to have wrapped my feature debut; this project is the collective efforts of 250 gifted artists who came together to achieve this vision,” said Nayla Al Khaja.

“The performances of Jefferson Hall and Saud Alzarooni beautifully capture the stark cultural differences and yet emphasize our shared human needs, healing, connection, and love. Three is a riveting cross-cultural horror film that pulsates with the mesmerizing rhythm of a foreign world.”

Producer Al Darmaki at Abu Dhabi-based Dark Dunes Productions said the film broke fresh ground for Emirati cinema.

“Nayla’s skill and take on storytelling is a good break from the norm of what constitutes as both an Emirati and an Arab film. It aligns with Dark Dunes Productions’ goal of doing something different and doing something good in genres that are well-loved on a global scale.”

Influential Emirati Businesswoman Easa Al Gurg who is on board as an executive producer said she had also been drawn to the project for the way it broke barriers and challenged stereotypes.

I believe in the power of storytelling to inspire change and create a more inclusive industry. Nayla Al Khaja’s talent stood out from the beginning when I encountered her short: The Shadow,” she said.

French producer Jean Charles Levy (Shttl, The Deep House, The Punch Love) highlighted the fact that the film was anchored in a culture rarely seen on the big screen internationally.

“Hoping that it will act as a catalyst for many films from Dubai for the rest of the world to see. Three captures not just the skyscrapers and aesthetics of the city but also the soul of its people and its diversity and that’s what makes it special.”

The film is currently in post-production and Al Khaja is already working on her next project feature Baab, which will feature music by two-time Oscar winner, music director A. R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours). 

The shooting for BAAB is scheduled to commence in March 2024 in emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.

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