The Doha Film Institute has secured the Middle East premiere of Oscar-nommed Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad’s buzz title “The Idol” as the opener of the third edition of its Ajyal Youth Film Festival.
“The Idol,” the potent tale of how Palestinian pop singer Mohammed Assaf went from being a kid in a refugee camp in Gaza to winning the second season of “Arab Idol” in 2013 and thereafter was named a goodwill ambassador for peace by the United Nations, had its European preem at the London Film Festival last night, after bowing in Toronto in September to strong reviews.
“It’s a story everyone in this region knows,” said DFI topper Fatma Al Remain. “‘Idol’ is also a very good story about inspiration and hope and pursuing your dreams. So it’s a great message on which to open the festival,” she added.
Scoring “Idol” for Ajyal marks a nice coup for the DFI which co-financed the pic, boarding it when it was already in production. Produced by Ali Jafaar and Amira Diab, “Idol” could have launched in the region from the Middle East fest of its choice. It’s been widely sold, including Adopt Fils for the U.S
Other Middle East preens launching from Ajyal, which is youth-oriented but broad in scope, include Jafar Panahi’s “Taxi,” which won this year’s Berlin Golden Bear; Danis Tanovic’s “Tigers,” about corporate greed and wrongdoing in the developing world; Nanni Moretti’s bereavement drama “My Mother”; and Lebanese dark comedy “Very Big Shot” by first time director Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya, who is a DFI grantee.
The third edition of Ajyal, which is conceptually similar to Italy’s Giffoni youth fest and has hundreds kids and adolescents as jurors, will run November 29-Dec 5 in Doha.