Recounting the Story of the Arab Idol Winner Mohammed Assaf
Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad's film The Idol premieres at Tornto International Film Festival (10 -20 September) within Special Screenings section. The film is the Dubai-based Fortress Film Clinic's first co-production with several international production companies. The Idol tells the story of Palestinian singer Mohammed Assaf's rise to fame as he wins the 2013 Arab Idol competition.
Concluding its Toronto screenings, The Idol is set to land European premiere during the BFI London Film Festival (7-18 October).
The Idol is directed by the Academy Award-nominated director Hany Abu-Assad who co-wrote the film along with Sameh Zoabi. Assaf is played in the film by actor Tawfeek Barhom, and the film also stars Nadine Labaki, Ali Soliman, Maisa Abdelhady, Mana Awad, Amer Helihal, and Ashraf Barhom.
The filming locations varied in different Arab countries, as it was filmed in Egypt, Jordan, and Palestine. The Idol events opens up with the ten-year-old Mohamad Assaf (Qais Atallah) and his elder sister, twelve-year-old Nour (Hiba Atallah), who are bonded by a shared obsession with music. Together, they scheme to find ways to buy musical instruments and start a band with their friends Ashraf (Ahmad Qassim) and Omar (Abdel karim Abu Baraka). The first to realize that her brother has a special talent for singing, Nour pushes the band to dream big and practice tirelessly. When the harsh reality of life in Gaza catches up with them, she remains a driving force, urging her brother to defy obstacle after the other and share his gift with the world.
Fortress Film Clinic is a Dubai-based production company which is the yield of the partnership between producer/scriptwriter Mohamed Hefzy's Film Clinic and Fortress Capital Investments. According to Mohamed Hefzy's statements, the company is planned to produce an average of 5-6 film projects annually that is able to compete in the international and regional markets.
Hany Abu-Assad is an acclaimed Palestinian director, born in Nazareth. He started as a producer in Hatta Ishaar Akhar written and directed by Rashid Masharawi. In 1998, Abu-Assad directed his first film The Fourteenth Chick, written by Arnon Grunberg. Abu-Assad achieved great international success by Rana's Wedding in 2002. His film Paradise Now (2005) was very controversial and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated for an Academy Award in the same category in addition to 11 awards from International festivals, three of them from Berlin International Film Festival. His film Omar (2013) was also nominated for an Academy Award in the same category and won 5 awards in international film festivals.
The Idol Screening Times at Toronto International Film Festival (GMT -4):
Friday, 11 September, 8:45 pm at Isabel Bader
Sunday, 13 September, 12:00 noon at The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Saturday, 19 September, 12:00 noon at Scotiabank Theatre - Scotiabank 1