100 mins, UK-Palestine-Qatar- Netherlands-United Arab Emirates, 2015, Subtitled, Digital

This film was released 12th August 2016, and is no longer screening.

★★★★★ RTE.ie

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From Hany Abu-Assad, director of the only two Palestinian films to be Oscar- nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, Paradise Now (2005) and Omar (2013), comes this recounting of the life of Gazan singer Mohammad Assaf, who in 2013 was crowned the winner of Arab Idol, the popular Arabic reality television show-cum-talent contest.

As a child, his musical ambitions were nurtured by his beloved sister Nour, instilling in him the confidence to make his appearance on the show. Facing difficulties both physical and ideological in making it to Egypt and entering the competition, it’s an unashamedly feel-good story of the triumph of the underdog; however, Abu-Assad is far too talented a filmmaker to present it in a prosaic fashion. The tension and danger of Assaf’s daily life is subtly depicted, as is his importance to a community with little to celebrate. (Notes by Kevin Coyne.)

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