Is a 40-year-old Muslim, Arab woman. One day, when Sabah least expects it, she falls in love with the wrong man: She's Muslim, he's not. Keeping him secret from

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A film by

Ruba Nadda

CANADA / 90 minutes

SABAH A Love Story

Short Synopsis

Sabah is a 40-year-old Muslim, Arab woman. One day, when Sabah least expects it, she falls in love with the wrong man: She's Muslim, he's not. Keeping him secret from her family, she goes on a whirlwind affair before both culture and love collide.

Long Synopsis

Sabah is just turning 40 and lives a quiet life in Toronto with her mother. She is a smart, attractive, Muslim, Arab woman whose passion and independence have been dulled by 20 years of duty to her loving yet demanding family, especially from the long days spent doting on her mother, the affable Um Mouhammed. While her spirit isn't crushed, it has certainly packed its bags and taken a small vacation. Things used to be different but Sabah's family retreated into a more conservative Arab lifestyle after her father's sudden death upon their arrival to Canada. All this starts to change when she receives a picture of her father taking a young Sabah for a swim in the ocean.

Despite her familial duties, Sabah's continual frustration is the regular need to answer to her older brother Majid, a man who controls not only the family fortunes but also the family's choices. And it is Majid who delivers the photograph that ultimately forces the change in Sabah's and indeed the entire family's life. As a treat to herself on her 40th birthday, rejuvenated by Majid's gift, Sabah sneaks off to go swimming, as a way to recapture happier times. Exhilarated and giddy from this act of rebellion, she cannot stop herself from returning. There at the pool, her spirit returns. By chance (and it's always by chance in these love stories) a man named Stephen accidentally steals her towel. Their attraction is obvious and Sabah's life begins to get more than a cool dip in the pool.

After another "chance" meeting in the water, Sabah agrees to go out for lunch with Stephen. From there, more meals and meetings are shared. Their differences become their strengths and their attraction to each other grows. The world has become a much larger and more wonderful place.

With surprise and concern Sabah falls in love with Stephen, however, the pressures of leading a double life begin to take a toll on both the relationship and her family life. Finally, Sabah must confront her family in order to make them realize that living happily in Canada requires bending the rules of their own culture from time to time. What results is both a clash of values and a test of loves' ability to transcend two divided cultures.


RUBA NADDA - Writer/Director

Internationally and critically acclaimed filmmaker Ruba Nadda is a writer, director and producer living in Toronto, Canada.

Nadda was born in Montreal and is of Arabian descent. She spent most of her life on the move with her family. She has lived all over Canada - Quebec, Manitoba, British Columbia and Ontario. In between, she returned with her family several times to Damascus, Syria before they finally settled in Toronto in 1989.

After graduating from York University, Nadda attended New York's prestigious Tisch School of the Arts in Film Production. She completed the school's summer program and upon her return to Toronto immediately began her prolific filmmaking career.


Her 12 short films have been shown in over 450 film festivals in five years. She has had over 20 retrospectives of her work shown in numerous cities, including Princeton (University), Rotterdam, Stockholm, Vienna, Wurzburg, Austin, San Francisco, Regina, Edmonton, Ottawa and Toronto.

Nadda's feature, SABAH. (2005) is having its worldwide premiere at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Atom Egoyan and Simone Urdl are the Executive Producers, Tracey Boulton is the producer and Arsinée Khanjian is in the lead role. Mongrel Media will be releasing the film theatrically in Canada in May 2005, with Celluloid Dreams acting as the foreign sales agent.

Nadda is also writing feature films CAIRO TIME, HAYAT and THE CHAMPAGNE ROOM, all funded by Telefilm Canada.

She is also a fiction writer, with short stories published in over 400 international journals, such as Riversedge Journal, West Wind Review 18th Anthology, The Sounds of Poetry, Blood & Aphorism, White Wall Review, Room of One's Own and Wascana Review.


Boulton's second feature film, SABAH, written and directed by Ruba Nadda and executive produced by Atom Egoyan and Simone Urdl and starring Arsinée Khanjian, debuted at the 2005 Rotterdam International film Festival. Her debut feature film THE RHINO BROTHERS (Dwayne Beaver) premiered theatrically in the spring of 2002 in Toronto and Vancouver to great reviews. THE RHINO BROTHERS' Gabrielle Rose was honoured with the Canadian Academy's Leo Award for Best Female Lead Performance. The film also won the Platinum Award for Best Low Budget Feature at Houston WorldFest and the Media Award at NextFest, Canada.

Boulton is currently co-producing a dramatic pilot entitled DEVIL'S PERCH for the Outdoor Life Network with Paul Scherzer and Six Island Productions, after successfully delivering URBAN NITES to OLN. Next up in television is the series ALL MY FRIENDS ARE SUPERHEROES in development with CTV/Comedy Network and based on the highly original short novel. She is also currently producing the new venture of CANADIAN FILMS IN SCHOOLS.

After 12 years in the film and television industry, Tracey Boulton made her move into producing when she was awarded the 1998 National Screen Institute Drama Prize for the short film THE FARE. She continued on that year to co-produce the short film ABE'S MANHOOD (winner, Vancouver International Film Festival) and served as production manager on BABETTE'S FEAST, another NSI Drama Prize. In 1999 Boulton went on to study at the Canadian Film Centre's Film Resident Programme, Producers' Lab. During her residency, she produced two short films; SUCCULENT, TASTY AND NICE and MARTIRIO. After attending the Film Centre, Boulton was accepted into the Ontario Media Development Corporation's Associate Producer Placement Program where she worked with S&S Productions (The Red Green Show) on MONEY SENSE and ANYTHING I CAN DO with Mag Ruffman.

Boulton has worked as a line producer and production manager on a variety of projects including STREETCAR (2004 Gemini for best performance) a dance film for Bravo, SAINT MONICA and post-co-ordinated MARION BRIDGE, two Canadian features which debuted at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival. Boulton also did a stint in 2002 at The Canadian Film Centre as the production and post supervisor, revising the Universal Short Film Programme.

Tracey has two projects currently in development: the new feature ROVER (developed by The Harold Greenberg Fund, Movie Central and Telefilm Canada) and the award-winning novel MOODY FOOD.

ATOM EGOYAN - Executive Producer

Atom Egoyan has directed several films including CALENDAR, EXOTICA, THE SWEET HEREAFTER and ARARAT. He has won numerous prizes at international film festivals including the Grand Prix and International Critics Awards from the Cannes Film Festival and two Academy Award® nominations. His films have been presented in major retrospectives around the world and a number of books have been written about his work. Egoyan's installations have been exhibited at museums and galleries in Canada and abroad, including the Venice Biennale.

Egoyan was President of the Jury at the 2003 Berlin International Film Festival. His production of Wagner's Die Walküre was performed by the Canadian Opera Company in April 2004 and will be remounted in Autumn 2006. Egoyan is currently completing his latest film, WHERE THE TRUTH LIES.


Paul's work in film and television over the past 9 years covers both documentary and drama. Paul produced the Genie nominated dramatic feature Khaled (Canada's Top Ten Films 2001; Best Director Award, Karlovy Vary; FIPRESCI International Critics Award, Toronto International; Jutra Award Special Mention) about a 10-year old boy who struggles to keep secret from the outside world the awful truth that his mother is dead. Paul also produced the feature No More Monkeys Jumpin' on the Bed (Best Emerging Director Award, Vancouver International Film Festival), written and directed by LAST WEDDING editor Ross Weber.

Recently Paul produced the TV-hour ROSE for CityTV's series on love stories and prior to that a racy 13-part documentary series for CTV's OLN entitled URBAN NITES about Montrealers who work and play outdoors in the city at night. Furthermore, in documentary Paul has served as line producer/production manager on numerous internationally acclaimed documentaries. For the NFB titles include Jeni Le Gon: Living in a Great Big Way (Montreal, Atlantic and Vancouver international film festivals), Java Jive (CBC), Tokyo Girls (winner of two Gemini Awards) directed by Penelope Buitenhuis and Just Watch Me (Genie Award, Best Documentary; Best First Feature, Toronto International); and for the CBC the Gemini-winner HOCKEY NOMAD, based on the best-selling book TROPIC OF HOCKEY by Rheostatics band member Dave Bidini.

With producing partner Tracey Boulton, Paul is due to release the feature SABAH in May, about a Muslim woman who falls in love with a white Canadian man. He and Tracey are presently developing a new comedic series based on Andrew Kaufman's ALL MY FRIENDS ARE SUPERHEROES with CTV, an original feature rover with Dwayne Beaver (THE RHINO BROTHERS), GRACE with Asghar Massombagi (khaled), PURPLE RINSE with Warren Wilensky (the cage) and AFTER ALFREDO with Domenico DeLuca. For adaptation, Six Island and TL Boulton Productions have optioned the award-winning novel MOODY FOOD by Ray Robertson and the original play LITTLE DRAGON by Keira Loughran. Paul is currently producing a documentary based on the artworks of Edward Burtynsky with Mercury Films.

LUC MONTPELLIER CSC - Director of Photography

Images created by award-winning Director of Photography LUC MONTPELLIER have entertained and provoked feature film audiences, festival cinephiles and television viewers for over a decade. Montpellier's work is exciting, innovative and daring. From the textured dramatic palettes of KEN FINKELMAN'S FOREIGN OBJECTS, to the dream-like images of GUY MADDIN'S THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD starring ISABELLA ROSSELLINI, Luc's vision is timeless and poignant, illustrating a mature balance between art and technology, freedom and form.

His touch has elevated the successes of feature films like the award-winning KHALED (directed by ASHGAR MASSOMBAGI) which earned Montpellier The Haskell Wexler Award for Best Cinematography at the Woodstock Film Festival and the gambling adventure LUCK. (directed by PETER WELLINGTON) which won Best Narrative Feature at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin Texas.

Montpellier's reputation is punctuated as much by the finished images on the screen as by the vital approach he brings to process. Relentless, creative and educated, Montpellier is dedicated to the cinematic search for complex statement through colour, movement and contrast.

His experience in all forms of filmed art is extensive, ranging from feature films, music videos and network series. Montpellier contribution of talent, wisdom and generosity of spirit is vital to the work of both aspiring and accomplished professionals throughout the world.

Montpellier has recently completed shooting SABAH (Ruba Nadda) a love story starring ARSINÉE KHANJIAN and SHAWN DOYLE, the biopic mini-series HEMMINGWAY VS CALLAGHAN (Michael Decarlo) that earned Montpellier a Gemini Award for Best Photography in a Drama and the comedy CONFESSIONS OF A SOCIOPATHIC SOCIAL CLIMBER (DANA LUSTIG) starring Jennifer Love Hewitt.

JONATHAN DUECK - Production Designer

Jonathan Dueck's career in design for film and television began in 1999 with James Allodi's THE UNCLES. Since that time he has worked on many productions ranging from the award-winning dance films of Nick de Pencier (STREETCAR - 2003) to the feature films of such rising director's as David Sutherland (LOVE, SEX AND EATING THE BONES - 2002) and Ruba Nadda (SABAH - 2005).


Hannigan is a film and television editor of many award-winning productions. There is a diversity of theme and genre in the projects she has edited which include the arts documentary ARTEMISIA: A WOMAN'S STORY, directed by Adrienne Clarkson; several TV movies for Jeannine Locke, a writer and producer with CBC; and some of Canada's best dramatic television series (THE ELEVENTH HOUR, TRADERS, THE ASSOCIATES) with many of the country's top directors. The summer of 2004 found her working in collaboration with Ruba Nada and Tracey Boulton, director and producer of the feature film, SABAH.

KIMBERLEY RUSH - Costume Designer

Rush has been designing for the last 10 years. Her versatility as an artist has led her to design not only in film and television but dance, documentary, commercials and music videos. She is also a talented art director, designing short films, music videos and commercials. Rush approaches her work with the sensibilities of both departments. She has worked with the likes of Walter Matthau, Carol Burnett, Alan Bates, Michael Madsen and Pete Postlethwaite. She has designed such films as HOLLYWOOD NORTH with Jennifer Tilley and Matthew Modine and TRIGGERMAN with Adrian Dunbar, Amanda Plummer and Claire Forlani. Rush recently designed a children's film called BAILEY'S BILLIONS starring Jennifer Tilley, Tim Curry and Dean Cain opening in theatres in March and a documentary based on the Douglas Copland book, SOUVENIR OF CANADA, airing on the CBC this year.

Rush drew on her years of living and travelling throughout the Middle East to inform her costumes for SABAH. She knew the costumes would have to reflect a Rococo aesthetic that is prevalent in that part of the World: the gold jewellery, the saturated colours, the fabrics and the ornamentation. This is in contrast to the image of Arab women in the mainstream media who are often dressed in a hijaab and abaya; dowdy and asexual. Director Ruba Nadda wanted to subvert that stereotype with an eye to portray woman in a more modern and sensual light. Having lived, worked and socialized among Arab women in Saudi Arabia, Rush was inspired by her recollections.

"They would arrive to parties shrouded in black from head to toe; however, the reveal was quite the contrary. They would be dressed in strapless, plunging, body conscious attire full of colour and accessorized to the nines. It was all about the reveal and the dichotomy of pious (in the case of Shaheera) and sexual. In the case of the lead character Sabah, her blossoming sexuality was revealed in an evolving colour palette."

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