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Room to Rent

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Room to Rent is a bitter sweet comedy about Ali, a young Egyptian screen-writer determined to succeed in London. He loves the artistic and political freedom, the colours, the music and the individualism. But Britain isn't an easy place for a foreigner to break through. No-one takes his work seriously and he has to scrape an illegal living in 'Arab' London as a waiter and Arabic voice over artist. With his student visa about to expire and a highly unsatisfactory relationship with married Vivienne, a French woman who more or less pays him to have sex, life is not easy. On the same day his visa extension is refused, a strange old blind woman accosts him on a train, plus he has a fight with his landlord and his thrown out of his lodgings. His friend Ahmed, a street wise hustler, thinks Ali should scrape together £3000 and buy a passport by entering into a fake marriage with a British woman - supplied with Ahmed if he wants to stay. With little money, a student visa and no home, Ali sees no alternative.

However, a series of relationships in different London 'rooms to rent' soon have a major impact on his future . . .
It was when writer-director Khaled El Hagar was doing voiceover work for Gillies Mackinnon's Hideous Kinky that he realised its star, Said Taghmaoui, would be an ideal lead in the film he was developing with producer Ildiko Kemeny. Taghmaoui was enthusiastic. "It's not every day that a juicy lead role for an Arabic actor comes along," he says. With Taghmaoui's name attached Kemeny was able to find a French co-producer, Marina Gefter of Paris-based IMA. StudioCanal, already co-producing Kemeny's Hotel Splendide, also came on board as sales agent.

Inspired by El Hagar's own experiences living in London, the bittersweet comedy tells the story of Egyptian writer Ali, who is struggling to stay afloat in London as his visa runs out. His only hope of staying on is to find a British woman who is willing to marry him. The trouble is fake marriages cost money, something Ali is a little short of. Finding somewhere to live is also far from straightforward. Along the way he encounters photographer Mark (Rupert Graves), an unstable young woman Linda (Juliette Lewis), whom Ali falls in love with, and ageing faith healer Miss Stevenson (Anna Massey), who thinks he is the reincarnation of her Egyptian lover.

Room To Rent is El Hagar's first English-language film. His debut feature Little Dreams screened to critical acclaim at several international festivals, including Rotterdam and Birmingham.


Type of film
Running Time
Khaled El Hagar
Khaled El Hagar
Exec prods
Georges Benayoun, Robert Buckler
Ildiko Kemeny, Amanda Mackenzie Stuart
Marina Gefter
Khaled El Hagar, Mackenzie Stuart
Romain Winding
Prod des
Eli Bo
John Richards
Main cast
Said Taghmaoui, Rupert Graves, Juliette Lewis, Anna Massey
The Film Council, IMA, StudioCanal


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Last updated 24th June 2005

Production Company

Renegade Films
Contact: Iidiko Kemeny
3rd Floor Bolsover House
5-6 Clipstone Street
London W1P 8LD
Tel: 020 7637 0957
Fax: 020 7637 0959


UIP/ The Film Consortium
Contact: Mia Bays
12 Golden Square
London W1A 2JL
Tel: 020 7287 7911
Fax: 020 7534 5201