PARIS– L.A.-based distributor Strand Releasing has acquired U.S. rights to “May Allah Bless France,” the directorial debut of hip hop musician Abd Al Malik.
Sold by Films Distribution, the black-and-white pic, which won the Fipresci PRize at Toronto, is an autobiographical drama adapted from Malik’s eponymous memoir. “May Allah Bless France” follows Regis, a black teenager from immigrant parents who grows up in the housing projects where he gets pulled into delinquency and ultimately succeeds in rising above it to become a major French artist.
“May Allah Bless France” was one of the 16 movies highlighted by Toronto fest’s Cameron Bailey as must-see pics.
Strand Releasing will host the U.S. premiere of the picture at the Unifrance Rendes-Vous with French Cinema in New York and will be releasing it theatrically in the fall.
“France has some of the most exciting new talent in cinema today. That vibrancy is reflected in the two films we have at the Rendez-Vous , ‘May Allah Bless France,’ and Thomas Cailley’s ‘Love at First Fight,'” said Marcus Hu, co-founder and co-president of Strand Releasing. Added Hu, “Malik is really a great new voice, his film reminded me of the first time I saw Mathieu Kassovitz’ ‘La Haine.'”
Hu said the Unifrance Rendez-Vous proved a good launchpad for a number of Strand’s French releases, notably ‘The Women on the 6th Floor” and Catherine Breillat’s “Blue Beard”and “Sleeping Beauty.”
Nicolas Brigaud-Robert, Films Distribution co-founder, said, “May Allah Bless France” has appealed to distributors despite being a black-and-white movie with no cast because it’s a “compelling film that resonates with current events, reflects today’s French society, and breaks new aesthetic grounds.”
“We had a similar experience when we worked on Abdellatif Kechiche’s ‘L’Esquive,’ which at first glance represented a challenge and ended up having a great international career because it spoke daringly about contemporary youth and brought something new stylistically,” added Brigaud-Robert.
The French exec also praised Strand Releasing for venturing off the beaten path and taking chances on new directors like Malik or Celine Sciamma (“Girlhood”).
Malik will be on hand at the Rendez-Vous in New York to present “May Allah Bless France.”