On the heels of its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Adopt Films has acquired U.S. rights to Hany Abu-Assad’s The Idol, a drama that’s based on the true story of the winner of 2013’s Arab Idol singing competition. Seville International handles international rights, outside the Middle East. MBC will co-produce and handle the film’s release in the Middle East and North Africa through its 03 production arm.
The Idol, which was partially filmed in Gaza, tells the true story of Mohammad Assaf. As a young boy in Gaza, he dreams of singing in the Cairo Opera House and for the world to hear his voice. Somehow he manages to make it to the Cairo auditions of Arab Idol, the most popular talent show in the region. As he gets to the latter stages of the competition, he must confront his own fears to take control of his destiny and bring hope and happiness to an entire region. A quartet of young actors from Gaza star, all making their big screen debut — Qais Attallah, Hiba Attallah, Ahmad Qassim and Abdalkarim Abubaraka. Also in the cast is Tawfeek Barhom, as well as special appearances from Nadine Labaki (Caramel, Where Do We Go Now?), Ashraf Barhoum (The Kingdom; Tyrant) and Ali Suliman (Paradise Now).
The Idol is written by Abu-Assad with Sameh Zoabi, and, full disclosure, produced by Deadline’s Ali Jaafar along with Amira Diab. Seville’s Anick Poirier is an executive producer. Cactus World Films’ Maya Sanbar and Sawsan Asfari are co-producers alongside Fortress Film Clinic’s Mohammed Hefzy and 03 Productions’ Fadi Ismail. Also co-producing are Majdal Productions’ Baher Agbariya, September Film’s Pim Hermeling and Key Films’ Hanneke Niens and Hans de Wolf. The Dubai Film Market’s Enjaaz initiative also co-produced. Hamed Mokhtar, Tiziana Sousou, Bashar Al-Masri, Badr Jafar, Gisel Kordestani , Khaled Said, Wafic Said, Sassan Ahsani, Khalil Amiouni, Mufid Shawwa are executive producers.
“After such a strong reception at TIFF, we are delighted to bring The Idol to the US with Adopt Films, who share a strong belief in the film,” said Anick Poirier, Senior Vice President, International Sales, Seville International. “We are focused on finding the right homes for great films from across the globe. Audiences around the world will be moved by this compelling story and are proud to be part of The Idol team.”
Additional sales at TIFF include Italy (Adler Entertainment), Poland (Monolith Films), Sweden (Folkets Bio), Denmark (Angel Films), Greece (Feelgood Entertainment). Previously announced sales include France (TF1), Germany (Koch), Switzerland (Praesens), Benelux (September Films), Japan (New Select Co. Ltd), Hungary (MTVA), Australia (Umbrella), Latin America (California Filmes), South Africa (Times Media), China (Beijing Xiangjiang YiHua Films), Portugal (Outsider Films), Hong Kong (Edko), India (PVR), South Korea (Pure), Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore (Red Pictures), Taiwan (Spring International), Former Yugoslavia (Discovery Films), Romania (Independenta), South Korea (Raon Contents & Media) and Airlines (Captive). eOne will directly release the film in Spain.
The Idol is produced in association with the Doha Film institute and the support of the Netherlands Film Fund. The deal was negotiated by Poirier with Grady for Adopt Films.