×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

10 Directors to Watch: Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah Bring Street Cred to Belgian Cinema

The Belgian duo draw from their Moroccan roots, attracting Hollywood attention with flashy third feature 'Gangsta.'

El Arbi and Fallah were the only two Moroccan-born students in their Belgian film school. While their white peers aspired to fine art, they dreamed of Hollywood.

Inspired by gritty crime dramas with a fondness for spectacle, the pair took to the streets with cameras. They made a feature, a short, some TV and in 2015, they won the Toronto film festival’s Discovery Award for their second feature, “Black,” a streetwise spin on Romeo and Juliet, set in Brussels.

Their latest, “Gangsta” (AKA “Patser,” which is Flemish for “show-off”), is in post-production. A humorous drug-deal-gone-bad caper in the Guy Ritchie vein, it plays like “Amélie” on crack.

“We got a lot of help from the city of Antwerp on this one,” El Arbi says. “We’re lucky they don’t read the scripts, because the city gets trashed. People don’t realize that Antwerp is worse than what we depict.”

They fuse amped-up visuals with authentic, marginalized characters — mostly played by real-life street people. The duo are determined to expand Belgian cinema: “As Moroccans, we have a negative image that we have to prove wrong. It’s a fight that every immigrant faces,” El Arbi says. “Our movies are for a generation who doesn’t have dreams. We want to give them a voice.”

But working in Belgium is just the beginning: They hope to make their first American movie in 2018. They are developing projects with Jerry Bruckheimer, including “Beverly Hills Cop 4.” starring Eddie Murphy. The question is which one will get funded.

“We’d love to do ‘Bad Boys 3,’ ” El Arbi says. “That’s right up our alley.” Or a “Star Wars”-level blockbuster, infused with their offbeat, multi-cultural mix.

“Adil and Bilall: in-your-face, entertaining, next-level shit,” Fallah quips. “Hopefully, that will be the brand. Plus, we’re two Moroccan Muslims who aren’t about terrorism, so it’s awesome.”

Influences: Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone
Agents: CAA
Manager: Management 360
Lawyer: Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein

More Film

  • European Union Placeholder

    European Parliament Gives Final Approval to Controversial Article 13 Copyright Directive

    The European Parliament on Tuesday gave final approval to Article 13, a controversial part of a wider directive that shakes up the rules around copyright in the European Union. The new rules will have ramifications for online platforms, content owners and creators, and the general public. The proposed new framework, now approved, has sparked widespread [...]

  • Fox Disney Layoffs

    Fox Studio Quickly Fades Away as Disney Starts Work on Integration

    In the waning days of 21st Century Fox, there was a run on the searchlight. As Disney neared the completion of its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox, employees on the Fox lot rushed into the studio’s gift shop to pick up mugs, shot glasses, sweatshirts, hats and T-shirts emblazoned with 20th Century Fox’s [...]

  • Small Theaters Struggle to Survive in

    Inside Indie Movie Theaters' Battle to Survive

    Nestled at the foot of a large hill on the edge of downtown Providence, R.I., Cable Car Cinema was known to local moviegoers as ”the one with the couches.” That was a charitable description. They were love seats, really — perfect if you were with a date but awkward if you went to see a [...]

  • Nadine Labaki

    Cannes: Nadine Labaki to Head Un Certain Regard Jury

    Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki has been named president of the jury for Un Certain Regard in Cannes. The Festival said Labaki had been chosen after “moving hearts and minds at the last Festival de Cannes with her Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated ‘Capernaum,’ which won the Jury Prize.” The organizers noted Labaki’s films have all [...]

  • Osmosis

    Netflix Unveils Four More French Originals, 'Gims,' 'Anelka,' 'Move,' 'Of Earth And Blood'

    As it prepares to open a fully-staffed office in France and ramp up its investment in local originals, Netflix has unveiled three new documentaries, “Move” (working title), “Gims” (working title), and “Anelka” (working title), and the feature film “Of Earth And Blood” while at Series Mania in Lille. Announced during a panel with Netflix’s commissioning [...]

  • Miramax Developing 'I Won't Be Home

    Film News Roundup: Miramax Developing 'I Won't Be Home for Christmas'

    In today’s film news roundup, “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas” is in the works, the NFL has made a documentary about female team owners and D Street Pictures has signed Kenny Gage and Devon Downs to direct the dance feature “Move.” HOLIDAY PROJECT Miramax has acquired film rights to Lauren Iungerich’s holiday-themed screenplay “I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content