Special Touch Studios, Paul Thiltges Set ‘Allah Is Not Obliged’

Set to pitch at Cartoon Movie 'Allah' tackles child soldiers at Africa civil wars

BERLIN — France’s Special Touch Studios will team with Luxembourg’s Paul Thiltges Distributions to produce “Allah Is Not Obliged,” an animated feature based on a tale from Côte d’Ivoire’s writer Ahmadou Kourouma.

“Allah is Not Obliged” will pe pitched at the upcoming Cartoon Movie animation pitch hub, which runs March 7-9 in the French city of Bordeaux. The film is currently in the development stage.

One of the most noteworthy contemporary African writers, Kourouma, author of best-selling “Waiting for the Wild Beasts,” wrote this shocking tale about children soldiers set against the backdrop of cruel civil wars that devastated large areas of Western Africa in the 1990s. Kourama has received the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens and France’s Renaudot Prize for his work.

“Allah” follows 8-year-old Birahima, who leaves his Guinean native village after his mother’s death. Accompanied by a sorcerer, he sets out to find his aunt. Crossing the border into Liberia, Birahima is forced into military service in a merciless civil war by a group of rebels.

Budgeted at €4.5 million ($5.6 million), “Allah” is scheduled to begin production at the end of 2019.

Mainly targeting an adult demographic, it could easily attract middle school children, according to Sébastien Onomo, CEO at France’s Special Touch, who other production credits include co-producing, along with Les Films d’Ici, on Denis Do’s “Funan,” which is sold by Bac Films and currently in post.

“Allah is Not Obliged” will be directed by animator and illustrator Zaven Najjar, whose shorts include “Un obus partout” and “Faute de temps.” He has trained at both Paris’ Arts Déco and the Art Institute of Chicago.

The film is also “a part of the story of Zaven, because he has Lebanese and Syrian origins. It’s a part of my story too because I have African origins,” Onomo told Variety, adding “Our movie will show the absurdity of the war, with humor and cynicism, through the eyes of a 8-year- old child. That is one of the original key points of this project.”

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