“Bilal: A New Breed of Hero” opens Friday at AMC theatres on both coasts
RIYADH, February 1, 2017 – The animated film Bilal: A New Breed of Hero opens in a number of US theatres this weekend, the first Saudi co-directed and produced animated film to play commercially in the United States, one of its directors said.
The film – which tells the biography of Bilal ibn Rabah, who was the first mu’azen, or prayer caller, during the time of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) – opens on Friday at a number of AMC and other theatres, including AMC’s Hoffman Center 22 in Alexandria, Virginia, and AMC Van Ness 14 in San Francisco, as well as theatres in the states of Ohio, Georgia, Michigan, Florida, New York, Iowa, among others.
“With God’s grace, and for the first time, the film Bilal will be screened in American theatres on Feb. 2,” the Saudi co-director Ayman Jamal, wrote in Arabic on his twitter account.
“It is the first Saudi produced and directed film to be screened commercially in theatres in America. Enjoyable viewing of the story of a great hero from our history … Bilal ibn Rabah!”
The film, rated PG-13, was three years in the making and its English version was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016. The English version of the film received a rating of 8.6 on IMDB, surpassing as many as 682 animated films in the theatres at the time.
“A thousand years ago, Bilal, a bright-eyed boy, with a grand dream of becoming a great warrior is abducted with his sister and taken to a land far away from his home,” read a message posted on the AMC Theatres website. “Inspired by true events, this is a story of a real hero, who earned his remembrance in time and history.”
Jamal had said that the film comes at a time when Islam as a religion faces accusations of extremism, and Bilal aims to show the true face of Islam and clear its reputation.
The cast includes Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (as the adult Bilal), Ian McShane, Michael Gross, China Anne McClain, Jacob Latimore, Thomas Ian Nicholas, and Fred Tatasciore.
Last August, the Arabic version of Bilal was screened locally at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center as part of the cultural events that are under the auspices of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s MiSK Foundation.
Bilal, co-directed by Jamal and Khurram H. Alavi, and made in Dubai premiered at the 12th Annual International Dubai Film Festival in December 2015, and was released in September 2016 in the Middle East and North Africa region, scoring box office success.
It has won “The Best Inspiring Movie” on the Animation Day during Cannes Film Festival and officially selected by Annecy Animation film festival and was nominated as top 5 movies in APSA award back in 2016 .
Commenting on the film, the Hollywood Reporter said: “What an Inspiring and Empowering movie”.
Qusai Kheder, a Saudi hip hop artist gave voice to Bilal’s Arabic character while Ola Al-Faris, a TV presenter from Jordan, did the voiceover for the film’s two main female characters, Ghafira and Hamama.