Movie inspired by Arab Idol star Mohammed Assaf debuts in Europe

BFI London Film Festival screening attended by MBC Group Chairman Sheikh Waleed Al-Ibrahim

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The movie inspired by the story of ‘Arab Idol’ star Mohammed Assaf last night witnessed its European debut at the prestigious BFI London Film Festival.

The screening of ‘The Idol’ at the star-studded UK festival, which runs until October 18, was attended by MBC Group Chairman Sheikh Waleed Al-Ibrahim, as well as Ahmad Alhendawi, the United Nations Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth.

The film, loosely based on the story of the Palestinian singer’s meteoric rise to fame and his 2013 victory in MBC’s talent-spotting show, saw a crowded red carpet of fans, media and press and film executives.

The movie was co-produced by MBC Group, of which the Al Arabiya News Channel and this website are part.

MBC said the movie created “a media buzz” at the London screening, which follows the film’s global premier at last month’s Toronto International Film Festival.

Al-Ibrahim said Assaf’s story had brought hope to many in the Palestinian territories and wider Arab world.

“Entire generations grew up on the pulse of the Palestinian cause, with unfortunate setbacks and disappointments; however, today ‘Arab Idol Assaf’ – who came out from the heart of Palestinian suffering – carries with him headlines of hope filling the hearts of tens of thousands of young Palestinians,” said Al-Ibrahim.

“The hope for success and excellence are not limited to performing artists such as Assaf, but rather embedded into the hearts of thousands of young talented Palestinians who aspire to achieve major accomplishments in various fields, awaiting anxiously for the right opportunity to rise and sparkle in all fields,” he added.

Alhendawi, the U.N. Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, flew from New York to attend the screening. “I’m here to celebrate the inspiring story of Mohammad Assaf, who against all odds has proven that the resilience and determination of Arab youth are rock-solid,” he said.

Shot in the Gaza Strip, Jenin and other areas of the Palestinian territories in addition to the Dead Sea in Jordan, ‘The Idol’ movie is inspired by Assaf’s life – from his humble beginnings in a refugee camp to his path towards stardom.

Assaf’s character is portrayed by young Palestinian actor Toufic Barhoum while other roles are played by fellow actors and actresses from the territory. The movie is written by the director, Hany Abu-Assad, as well as Sameh al-Zoabi, and was produced by Ali Jaafar and Amira Diab.

The ‘Arab Idol’ himself recorded three songs for the movie’s soundtrack, with music for the film written by renowned Palestinian composer Habib Shehadeh Hanna. Assaf’s new songs for the movie will be distributed worldwide through Platinum Records, an MBC Group subsidiary.

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