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MARCO is the debut short film from Saleem Haddad, the critically acclaimed author of GUAPA.
100 backers pledged £13,237 to help bring this project to life.

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£13,237

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Marco is a new short film written and directed by Saleem Haddad.

Omar lives a lonely life in London. He's been in the city for over a decade, and spends his days working and ignoring his mother's phone calls. One night, bored, restless and horny, he reaches for his phone and invites over a young man that catches his eye: a Spanish sex worker called Marco. But as their night together progresses, Omar gets much more than he paid for, because Marco is really Ahmed, and his story echoes across Europe, not to Barcelona, but to Aleppo.

This is a story about modern-day London, about alienation and the search for intimacy. But it is also a story about Syria, about the refugee experience, and the pain of loss and exile. And it is a universal story of that most simple and intangible of desires: the need for human connection and the subtle, radical changes it can bring.

Marco is the debut film of critically acclaimed novelist Saleem Haddad. Saleem has been described as "an Arab Tennessee Williams" (Nick Seeley, author of Cambodia Noir), following the publication his first novel, Guapa, in 2016. The novel received critical acclaim from the New Yorker, The Guardian, the London Review of Books, and others, was awarded a Stonewall Honour in 2017, and recently won the 2017 Polari First Book Prize. Saleem was also selected as one of the top 100 Global Thinkers of 2016 by Foreign Policy Magazine.

Editions of Saleem's novel, Guapa. Top row, left to right: Italy, US, India. Bottom row, left to right: Germany, Spain, UK.
Editions of Saleem's novel, Guapa. Top row, left to right: Italy, US, India. Bottom row, left to right: Germany, Spain, UK.

WHY DO WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT?

There are many facets to producing a film. We have one of the most vital ingredients: a brilliant script. The next stage in the process is for us to assemble the cast and crew to bring the story to life. To do this, we need your support. The money you pledge will help us secure the very best team for our film, secure our locations, find our cast, workshop the script with them and produce a film that we (and you!) can be proud of.

Marco is not a commercial film. It is a quietly radical story, a queer story, told mostly in Arabic. We want to help the film find a life in the international film festival circuit, and reach wide and diverse audiences that will enjoy and learn from it. You play a vital role in this. By pledging to the project, and spreading the word online, you're supporting a very exciting new voice in cinematic storytelling, and your donations mean so much to us! We hope you're as excited about Marco as we are, and we look forward to keeping you all updated as we progress!   

ABOUT THE TEAM

SALEEM HADDAD - Writer/Director

Saleem Hadad
Saleem Hadad

Saleem Haddad was born in Kuwait City to an Iraqi-German mother and a Palestinian-Lebanese father. He has worked with Médecins Sans Frontières and other international organisations in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, and Egypt. His first novel, Guapa, was published in 2016. Marco is his first film.

JACK CASEY - Producer

Jack Casey is a script editor and development producer, working with new and emerging filmmakers in the UK, Ireland and the US. He has worked in talent development for the UK Film Council, BAFTA, the BBC, the Virgin Media Shorts Competition and the BFI. Jack also has a decade of experience in film exhibition, working for festivals such as the BFI London Film Festival, Sheffield Doc/Fest, BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival, Sundance London and East End Film Festival. He is a graduate of the University of Sussex, Goldsmiths, and the National Film & Television School.

AISHA WALTERS - Casting Director

One half of McAuley Walters Casting, Aisha has worked in casting since 2007, working with numerous acclaimed directors in film and TV. Aisha worked for Shaheen Baig Casting for 6 years and assisted Shaheen as an associate on numerous projects including The Impossible (starring Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor), Starred Up (starring Jack O'Connell), Locke (starring Tom Hardy), Black Mirror (written by Charlie Brooker) and Peaky Blinders (starring Cillian Murphy). As a Casting Director she jointly cast many projects including My Brother The Devil. Since leaving Shaheen Baig her credits as a Casting Director include The Possibilities are Endless, Steve McLean's Postcards from London (starring Harris Dickinson), the BIFA-nominated Chubby Funny, and TV projects Youngers, Cyberbully (starring Maisie Williams) and The Watchmen (starring Stephen Graham).

Risks and challenges

Making a short film is always full of challenges! We have a brilliant script that we're very excited about, and a story we're desperate to tell. But the biggest challenge to shooting MARCO is casting the right actors. We want to work with a casting director and take the time to cast our characters authentically and truthfully, and your pledges will help us to do this.

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    Pledge £5 or more About $6

    THANK YOU!

    Our deepest thanks for your support.

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    SOCIAL

    A shout-out on our social media platforms to thank you for your support.

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    Pledge £25 or more About $31

    LET'S GET DIGITAL

    The above, plus your name in the credits under 'Special Thanks', AND a digital download of the finished film (following its UK and international premieres) for you to watch at home.

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    Pledge £50 or more About $63

    THE ARTIST

    All of the above AND an A3 print of our finished poster, signed by Saleem Haddad.

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    Pledge £100 or more About $126

    THE READER

    All of the above AND a signed copy of Saleem's critically acclaimed novel, Guapa.

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    Pledge £250 or more About $315

    SKYPE

    All of the above AND a 30 minute Skype call with Saleem Haddad, so that you can ask him about the project and his work from anywhere in the world!

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    Pledge £500 or more About $629

    COME DINE WITH US

    Join MARCO's writer/director Saleem Haddad and producer Jack Casey for a private dinner in London. Also includes all of the above.

    Travel and accommodation costs not included.

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    Pledge £1,000 or more About $1,258

    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

    To thank you for your generous support, you'll receive all of the above AND an ASSOCIATE PRODUCER credit in the film and on its IMDb page, plus a ticket to the film's UK festival premiere.

    Travel and accommodation costs not included.

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    Pledge £5,000 or more About $6,290

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

    Help us hit 50% of our target, and you'll receive a very special EXECUTIVE PRODUCER credit in the film and on its IMDb page. Also includes all of the above.

    Travel and accommodation costs not included.

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Funding period

- (29 days)