Bendita Films Sales Boards Belgian Social Drama ‘Amal,’ Starring ‘Paradise Now,’ ‘Incendies’ Lubna Azabal (EXCLUSIVE)

Bendita Films Sales has taken worldwide rights outside Benelux to Jawad Rhalib’s social drama “Amal,” toplining award-winning Belgian actress Lubna Azabal, who appeared in Oscar-nominated films “Paradise Now” and “Incendies.”

Télescope has acquired the film’s distribution rights for the Benelux region.

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“Amal” world premieres Nov. 17, competing in main competition at Tallinn’s 27th Black Nights Film Festival edition.

Set up at prolific, successful Belgian outfit Scope Pictures, “Amal” is produced by Geneviéve Lemal and co-produced by Ellen de Waele.

Azabal plays an idealistic and passionate French literature teacher in a suburban Brussels school, who becomes the target of intense hostility from students and colleagues tied to Islamic extremism when she chooses to help a teenage Muslim girl accused of homosexuality.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife-based Bendita Films Sales will make “Amal’s” market premiere at Berlin’s European Film Market in February.

“We were completely dazzled by the film’s narrative strength, its honesty, and bravery in addressing such a delicate and sadly very current issue, not to mention Lubna Azabal’s compelling performance,” says Bendita Films CEO Luis Renart.

“’Amal’ is an intense, thrilling, and emotive film, a hymn to freedom, religious tolerance, and the power of literature, so necessary in a historical time like this where extremism seems to be resurging,” says.

“We are confident that the film can deeply resonate with a wide audience, and we are enthusiastic about bringing it to the market,” he adds.

“With ‘Amal,’ my goal was to address the issue of the influence of the Muslim community within our schools and to shed light on the fear it can instil in teachers,” said Moroccan-born, Brussels-based writer-director Jawad Rhalib.

“It’s rare to find teachers like Amal, who are capable and willing to resist pressure from parents and religious associations. My aim was to give them a voice and, above all, to highlight this reality,” he added.

Rhalib’s fiction features and documentaries have tackled themes of human rights and social realism, and have been screened at a large number of international film festivals. In 2020, his documentary “Fadma: Even Ants Have Wings” took the Amnesty International Human Rights Award at Durban Film Festival in South Africa.

Also, the director’s feature doc “When Arabs Danced” snagged the audience award at Nyon’s 2018 Visions du Réel Intl. Film Festival and had its North American premiere at Toronto.

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