TorinoFilmLab - Training, development, Funding



Julian Robert McKinnon, Judith Lou Lévy

France, Italy, United Kingdom


MALIKA (21), a French girl of Arab origin, needs the help of her three sisters to find and stop their evil mother, the most wanted terrorist in the world. Ten years have passed since their mother mysteriously disappeared and the sisters were separated and adopted by different Islamic families around the world. After a terrible attack, the sisters gather together again and start the adventure. 
They land in Lebanon, where their mother’s terrorist organisation is based. Thanks to chubby AIDA’s computer skills, strong YASMINA’s kickboxing, beautiful LATIFA’s 2.0 social abilities and tomboyish Malika’s courage, they locate their mother. But things are not how they seemed: the woman is at the service of BLANCHE WEISS, the leader of Whitewater – a worldwide private security company. The sisters get entangled in Blanche’s evil plan: produce and broadcast the “Burqa Bombers” videos to frighten the world and make Whitewater gain more and more control over Europe. The unexpected sacrifice of the girls’ mother allows the sisters to escape from Blanche. 
The sisters’ final journey is to seek revenge and prevent Blanche from bombing the Shopping Festival in Dubai. 


#Fierce is my first script and it’s still in development.

The idea for the subject came when I was living in Egypt (2009-2011). Munaqqabat – women wearing a niqab or Islamic face-covering veil – are more and more present and visible in European and Islamic countries. As a European, I had to challenge Western cultural stereotypes that depict Muslim women (especially those wearing a niqab) as oppressed by a patriarchal society and religion. My imagination used a transformative approach on this discourse by inventing stories about non-conventional Muslim women (at least for Europeans). These daydreams are the sparks at the core of #Fierce.

My goal is to write a mainstream chick flick action film. More specifically, a conspiracy thriller. I want the story to be entertaining and dynamic. I want to offer to the audience an exciting visceral experience. And I want it to be a new, original experience.

Our aim is to reach the largest audience possible. First of all, the movie is written for a multi-cultural audience. The flamboyant characters, the fast-paced story and the spectacular movement of bodies draw on those aspects of Western pop culture that can also entertain Arab audiences and, at the same time, on those elements of Middle-Eastern iconography that will renew the aesthetics of the action genre for the Western viewer. Moreover, the story is meant to entertain different generations. The characters and the action are made to excite a young audience (even teenagers), while the crazy geopolitical intrigue in the background will attract a mature audience as well.

I want to use the visual and narrative power of the action movie to talk about disintegration and reconstruction of sisterhood (plot), shifting identities across contemporary worlds (the sisters’ subplots) and construction of imaginaries (the Whitewater conspiracy subplot).

Unlike many action movies concerning Islam, I don’t want the Muslims to be either victims or villains. Furthermore, I don’t want the female characters to be sidekicks. They are strong positive characters, capable of reacting to injustice and to subvert stereotypes about religion and women.
Dubai is an essential location for our story. The city is part of that hyper-contemporary dream that makes the rest of the world look old and boring. Higher than New York, shinier than Las Vegas, kinkier than the metropolis in Blade Runner, it provides new cinematic territories to our imaginaries.

distribution & sales

Les Films du Bal was founded by Judith Lou Lévy in 2011 to follow the work of young talents – both filmmakers and screenwriters. Its goals are to provide original and funny perspectives on globalisation and to give young “auteurs” the possibility of using mainstream culture to offer entertainment. Besides the production of shorts, several feature films with an international outlook are currently in development: Fire Next Time by Mati Diop, that will be shot in Senegal (awarded an Open Doors development grant at the 2012 Locarno Film Festival), Before The End Of The World, written by Noé Debré and Fabien Commoy, in co-production with Moonshaker (that recently produced Smart Ass directed by Kim Chapiron) and an omnibus about music that will be directed by five world-renowned directors. Julian McKinnon’s project perfectly fits in our editorial perspective. The idea of #Fierce was born a few years ago, before the Arab Spring, when Julian was researching at the American University in Cairo. We have been dreaming of what we saw as a renewal of iconography concerning Arab countries. We explored this possibility, finding mystery and drama in the veil and a possible variation of the super-hero trope that, as 80s kids, excites us, providing the opportunity to finally make a women-centred action movie! #Fierce is situated at a crossroads of both cultural and geographical dynamics. It channels contemporary pop culture by referring to very modern and successful productions such as Haywire for action and Kick-Ass for comedy, with an unexpected Euro-Mediterranean twist. Beyond its entertaining aspect, #Fierce will offer a hopeful alternative path to a collective future. Tenderness, kinship and community: these are the values put forward in the story. Both cheeky and emancipating, our project questions western preconceived notions about Muslim women by giving them adventurous lead roles. It uses clichés in order to break them in a corrosive way. To strengthen the appealing dimension of the film, we want to choose French “jeunes premières” actresses with an Arab background like Leila Bekhti, Hafsia Herzi or Sabrina Ouazani and we are currently working on finding an Arab director who will bring nuance to the topic and give the film its legitimacy. This film has to achieve its whole commercial potential. #Fierce is aimed at offering a delightful comedy for a large and young audience, eager to see an action movie and comedy. That is to say teenagers and young adults (16+) both in Europe and in the Arab world. Considering the actual cultural consumption of this target, this film is in direct competition with action comedies from the American industry. It is a great production challenge to get the right budget to give the film the best production value and an efficient communication campaign. The estimated budget of the film is 6 million euros. We would like to partner up with a bigger studio to jointly consider the director. France would be able to provide at least 60 % of the budget but we want to involve other partners, above all from the Arab world, whose commitment will be decisive in introducing the film to Arab audiences. Since France remains the major funds provider in Europe, it will also be important to respect in the narrative process a 51% French language. The rest of the film will be in Arabic. We are currently looking for development funds to further develop the writing and begin the development of a viral communication strategy. The Dubai International Film Festival is the first public presentation of the project.

When your worst fear becomes your only hope.
Julian Robert McKinnon

Judith Lou Lévy


production notes

original title

directed by
Julian McKinnon

produced byLes Films du Bal
1 rue de rocroy
75010, Paris

total production budget
€ 6.000.000

current financial need
€ 60.000