Amid challenging times for Muslims everywhere emerges the empowering story of Bilal, the Middle East’s first animated feature film about a boy named Bilal, who dreams of becoming a warrior, and his sister Ghufaira.
Inspired by the life of Bilal Ibn Rabah, an African slave who became one of the most beloved companions to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), the movie is “an adaptation that is both empowering and inspiring in its call for social justice and equality,” the Hollywood Reporter wrote.
The film from Dubai animation studio Barajoun Entertainment premiered at the Dubai International Film Festival on Wednesday, Dec. 10. Produced by a team that worked on hits including “Shrek” and “Monsters, Inc.,” The National wrote in its review that the animation and design “can genuinely stand alongside the best Hollywood fare.”
In another review, variety.com applauded the film’s extraordinary visuals stating that “they are extremely well designed, so highly sculptural that certain figures — Bilal and family in particular — often look as if the animators put real actors through their paces and morphed them into illustrations.”
The official teaser trailer depicts a loving Abyssinian mother and her two young children in the late sixth century: “In a time of tyranny, when greed and injustice ruled all one boy will challenge everything…An ancient tale of two children and their mother traveling back in time to witness the birth of courage.”
Bilal’s dream of becoming a warrior in the movie turns into a nightmare when men invade his village, kill his mother, abduct him and his sister and sell them into slavery in a land far away from home. Thrown into a world where greed and injustice rule all, Bilal finds the courage to raise his voice and make a change.
According to Gulf Times, Ayman Jamal, the co-director and producer of the film told audiences during a roundtable discussion at the Dubai International Film Festival that “this film is a big deal for the region because it’s never been done before here — a full-length animation film produced, shot and made here, it’s the first of its kind.”
Production company: Barajoun Entertainment
Voice cast: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ian McShane, China Anne McClain, Jacob Latimore
Directors: Khurram H. Alavi, Ayman Jamal
Screenwriters: Alex Kronemer, Michael Wolfe, Khuram H. Alavi, Yassin Kamel
Producer: Ayman Jamal
Directors of Photography: Ajdin Durakovic, Khurram H. Alavi, Nareg Kalenderian
Editor: Patricia Heneine
Music: Atli Orvarsson
Animators: Jayesh Yatgiri, Anirudh Iyer
Venue: Dubai Film Festival (Gala Screenings)
Rated PG-13, 113 minutes
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Video: Barajoun Entertainment (Bilal Trailer)