25th September, 2015


Co-production deal signed on eve of film’s Toronto International Film Festival debut

Abu Dhabi, September 8, 2015: Image Nation Abu Dhabi, one of the leading media and entertainment companies in the Arabic-speaking world, has come onboard Hany Abu-Assad’s The Idol during the film’s final postproduction phase.

The Idol will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11th in the Special Presentations section.

Directed by acclaimed Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now, Omar), The Idol tells the inspirational true life story of Mohammad Assaf, a wedding singer from Gaza who became a worldwide sensation after winning the live-singing competition Arab Idol in 2013.

Michael Garin, CEO of Image Nation said: “Hany Abu-Assad is one of the Arab region’s most gifted filmmakers and we greatly admire his work. Image Nation’s decision to join the project at this stage is a validation of the quality of that work. Not only is this a great team, but it’s a great film and we are thrilled to be part of it. ”

Added Abu-Assad: “This is the first time I’ve worked with Image Nation and I am very happy with our first collaboration on The Idol. “I hope this film will mark the beginning of a beautiful friendship”.

The Idol is one of Image Nation’s two high-profile screenings at Toronto Film Festival, which will feature the highly-anticipated feature documentary He Named Me Malala, directed by Academy Award®-winner Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth). He Named Me Malala is being released by Fox Searchlight Pictures, in association with Image Nation Abu Dhabi and Participant Media, with National Geographic Channel. The documentary was produced by Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald under their long-term partnership with Image Nation.

The Idol will then be showcased at BFI London Film Festival, where Image Nation will be celebrating the European premieres of three other titles – He Named Me Malala, Majid Al Ansari’s Zinzana and Ali Mostafa’s From A to B.

Garin added: “Image Nation is starting the festival season strong with notable lineups at Toronto Film Festival and BFI London Film Festival. It’s a particular high point for us to be able to bring the work of two gifted Emirati filmmakers to international audiences, and it’s a testament to the rapid development of our narrative and documentary slates.”

The Idol has already made an impact in the market. Seville Sales is handling international rights to The Idol outside the Middle East and has already closed a number of deals in over 20 territories including France (TF1), Germany (Koch), Japan (New Select), Australia (Umbrella), Latin America (California Filmes), China (Beijing Xiangjiang YiHua Films), Hong Kong (Edko), India (PVR), Taiwan (Spring International), and South Korea (Kaon Contents & Media).

MBC is releasing in the Middle East and North Africa through its 03 production arm. EOne will distribute in Spain.

The film was produced by Ali Jaafar and 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.