Annakarinaland

Annakarinaland
Anna Karina in Pierre le Fou

2016-05-16

Animated epic "Bilal A New Breed of Hero" premieres at Cannes Market


Animated epic "Bilal A New Breed of Hero" premieres at Cannes Market

Bilal learns that bravery is in the mind not the weapon. Courtesy of Barajoun Entertainment, used with permission 

Bilal - A New Breed of Hero 
by Moira Jean Sullivan, accredited journalist at Festival de Cannes

The world premiere of “Bilal”, an animated historical epic premiered at the Cannes Film Festival Market May 14, the first of its kind made with computer generated animated graphics. Sharing the task of directing are Hurram H. Alavi and Ayman Jamal from the United Arab Emirates. Jamal is also the producer of the film and was present at the premiere at the Cannes Film Festival that runs from May 11-22.

The English language animation is a 1400-year story about Bilal, a young African boy who dreams of becoming a great warrior, is abducted with his sister, separated from her and taken to a distant land rampant with greed and corruption. Bilal’s choice to become a warrior is a childhood dream that is later necessitated by the violent way in which his village is destroyed and his family broken up. Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” comes to mind in this saga of a young man who leaves his home, goes out in the world to accomplish extraordinary deeds and later returns to receive the boons of his society. That legacy lives on in the recollection of this historical hero.

According to director Hurram Halavi, the use of animation was important for telling this story in “abstract and unique ways”. Situating this African hero within a dramatic context involves the creation of supernatural forces, animal characters and 300 foot soldiers with battle scenes that took months of painstaking effort by a team of 360 in this $30M project produced by the Dubai-based Barajoun Entertainment. This is no ordinary action film for it is embellished with an intricate design and a humanization of animated characters that become as real as a live action feature. The details of the human figure in the film are extraordinary especially hair and facial expressions as well as authentic costume and makeup. What is also particularly amazing is the fur of animals, particularly Bilal’s white horse that is stunningly radiant in tactile texture.

"Bilal" is scored by the Icelandic composer Atli Örvarsson and produced at Abbey Road Studies. The music is inspired by Middle Eastern as well as Norse and European sources. Örvarsson is know for films such as the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series, “Babylon A.D” and “Season of the Witch”.

Noteworthy of this first historical epic is the evolution of Bilal throughout his lifetime in image and sound. The voice of the young Bilal is Jacob Latimore and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbajelends his masterly voice to the mature man. China Anna McClain does the vocals for Bilal’s young sister Ghufaira.

Bilal ibn Rabah is a famous historical figure who will be new to young audiences. The values of the film are important for Bilal’s odyssey is to learn to forgive without retaliation. The oversaturation of today's computer graphics involving mercenary battles is completely absent from the film. Bilal is surrounded by negative values that he resists and is a model to young people of his time. In one scene he helps a young hungry boy resist the attempt to steal and is constantly put in situations where he must choose the higher ground and resist temptation. The lessons from this film do not escape unnoticed and although they hark from a distant time, they are universal and instill a refreshing approach to bravery. Bilal is a solid reflection on the forging of the human condition through the strength of integrity that is central to each of us reminding us that there are real and immediate opportunities for mindful choice and ways of life. "Bilal", as the title of this riveting animated epic claims, is indeed "A New Breed of Hero".

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