- Cast: Mark Strong, Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Riz Ahmed, Tahar Rahim, Corey Johnson, Liya Kebede, Adriano Giannini, Eriq Ebouaney, Akin Gazi, Jan Uddin, Jamal Awar, Mostafa Gaafar, Lotfi Dziri, Tarick Hadouch, Hichem Rostom, Driss Roukhe, Mohammed Alibrahim, Ramsi Lehner, Raouf Ben Amor, Chedly Arfaoui, Ziad Ghaoui, Adel Rabah, Ali Bennor, Med Sayari, Abdelmajid Lakhal, Bechir Salhi, Taoufik Ayeb
- Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
- Writers: Menno Meyjes, Jean-Jacques Annaud, Alain Godard, Hans Ruesch
- Producer: Tarak Ben Ammar
- Executive Producer: Xavier Castano
- Costume Design: Fabio Perrone
- D.O.P.: Jean-Marie Dreujou
- Editor: Hervé Schneid
- Makeups: Christophe Chabenet, Amèlie Grossier
- Music: James Horner
- Production Design: Pierre Queffelean
- Set Decoration: Fabienne Guillot
In the beginning of the Twentieth Century, in Arabia, Emir Nesib of Hobeika defeats Sultan Amar of Salma after years of war between their tribes and they make a peace treaty creating "The Yellow Belt", a large no man's land that would separate their lands and would not belong to neither of them.
Further, Nesib demands the sons of Amar, Saleh and Auda, to be raised together with his children Tarik and Leyla by him in Hobeika as a guarantee of their agreement.
Fifteen years later, representatives of the Texas Oil find oil in the Yellow Belt and the modern and liberal Emir Nesib sees the opportunity to improve and modernize the life of his tribe, building hospitals and schools, and the American Company begins the exploitation of the oil field, violating the peace pact.
Nasib sends a representative to make an agreement with the fundamentalist Sultan Amar, but he does not accept the offer. Saleh decides to travel to Salma to talk to his father and kills his two companions, but he is.
- Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
- Filming Locations: Latrach, Tunisia; Mesaieed, Qatar
- MPAA Warning: Violence
- Production Budget: €40 million
- Production Companies: Quinta Communications, Prima TV, Carthago Films S.a.r.l., France 2 Cinéma, Doha Film Institute
- Production Schedule: 18 October 2010 - March 2011
2011 Guide Analysis: "One of the most ambitious non-Hollywood projects of next year, this adaptation of Hans Ruesch's 1957 novel "South of the Heart: A Novel of Modern Arabia" uses the fascinating and almost unexplored backdrop of the impact that the discovery of oil, and the ensuing power struggle to control it, had on society and religion in parts of the Middle East. The cast is great, topped by the excellent Mark Strong, veteran Banderas, "A Prophet" star Rahim, rising "Slumdog Millionaire" actress Pinto and "Four Lions" actor Riz Ahmed.
Formerly titled "Black Thirst" and currently shooting in Tunisia, Libya and Qatar, the $55 million project is helmed by French filmmaker Annaud who has demonstrated strong skill with period dramas like Russian sniper thriller "Enemy at the Gates" and the Sean Conney monk murder mystery "The Name of the Rose". Equally exciting is a script by Menno Meyjes who scripted "The Color Purple," "The Siege," "Max" and performed story work and polishes on "Empire of the Sun" and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade".
It's a major shoot, Tunisia Online reporting that more than 100 Tunisian actors, 100 technicians and 16 assistant directors are involved in the 14-week leg of the shoot in Matmata where "Star Wars," "The English Patient" and 'Raiders' were shot. A brief video interview with Annaud reveals that there will be several battle scenes and shows off various impressive desert locations in Qatar where several key scenes will be staged.
The accents will be interesting, Ahmed amusingly noting that "I’m going to play Tahar Rahim’s brother. Antonio Banderas is playing our dad and Freida Pinto’s playing my sister. It’s all one big happy family with a French accent, an English accent, a Spanish accent and an Indian accent. We’ll shoot for mid-Mediterranean somewhere."
Annaud also hints that the tone might be lighter than expected, calling it "a great, enjoyable and entertaining movie for families around the world." A U.S. distributor isn't yet locked, but distribution rights in Europe are currently split between Universal and Warner Bros. Pictures which means it's likely one of them will give the project a decent sized release States-side sometime in the second half of the year."