Actors Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jacob Latimore, Ian McShane and China Anne McClain all voice starring characters in Abu Dhabi-based Barajoun Entertainment's first feature film production, Bilal: A New Breed of Hero.
The story is based on the thousand year old true story of Bilal Ibn Rabah, a freed slave of Ethiopian origin, abducted with his sister, who converted to Islam and became a trusted companion of the Prophet Muhammad after he gained his freedom
A team of about 250 animation professionals (including some who have worked on movies such as Shrek, Life of Pi, Star Wars and The Avengers) worked to bring the project to life.
“My inspiration was my kid, and myself,” says Ayman Jamal, the screenwriter, founder and managing partner of Barajoun Entertainment. “When I watched movies like Braveheart or Malcolm X when I was in my late 20s and early 30s, I was inspired. Why wasn’t I inspired when I was 10, I asked myself? I asked my 5-year-old son what he wanted to be when he grew up. He said: ‘Superman’. I love Superman, but I wish he’d said something possible, and I wanted to create this. To inspire kids with a real human superhero that they can aspire to.”
He adds: “Superman is the reason I did this. I had to save my kid.”
As for his Barajoun Entertainment production house, Jamal shares the following: “This is the first studio of this quality in the Middle East. Initially, we wanted to acquire one, but there was simply nothing on this level. There was nothing that was able to fulfill the pipeline to produce a full animation movie. A typical animated TV series would normally take a maximum of 20,000 hours to render. A movie like Bilal will take four to five million hours. To put it in perspective, Frozen took 60 million hours to render. Likewise, a full TV series will take 20 to 25 team members to work on. Bilal has more than 250. This complexity just didn’t exist in the region until now.”
Jamal further explains: "We’ve paid serious attention to detail. We hired 11 researchers, including doctors from universities, to research the history of the story, and we’ve taken all the characters’ descriptions from at least 17 different historical sources. We hired two forensic scientists to model the characters based on these descriptions and what we know about the tribes of the time. It took six months to design each character and we’re really proud of it. We’re showing the characters exactly as described in historical texts, not just using our imagination. We’ve spent 5,000 hours of research to develop clothes and props too."
The project was in development for 8 years, according to the passionate producer, and, as we recently discovered, it's now finally set for official distribution in the USA on February 2, 2018, via Vertical Entertainment. Although specific cities where the film will open, haven't been revealed yet.
And with the release announcement comes a brand new trailer for Bilal: A New Breed of Hero, which is embedded below, followed by some more marketing materials for the upcoming film, including cast interviews with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jacob Latimore and ChinaAnne McClain, as well as a couple of clips: