A nominee in the Best First Feature Film and Best Male Newcomer categories at the César Awards earlier this month, Strand Releasing has announced its acquisition of celebrated rapper and spoken word artist, Abd Al Malik’s feature directorial debut, “May Allah Bless France!,” which is an adaptation of the filmmaker’s 2004 autobiography, chronicling his upbringing in the crime- and drug-ridden streets of Strasbourg, leading up to his life-changing encounters with hip hop and religion.
It’s been touring the international film festival circuit, since its Toronto International Film Festival debut last fall, and will next screen at the 2015 edition of the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s annual Rendez-Vous with French Cinema series, which runs from March 6 – 15.
A candid account of his early life and artistic awakening that earned him the FIPRESCI Discovery Prize at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, born Régis Fayette-Mikano to Congolese immigrants, Malik grew up in Strasbourg’s housing projects, participating in petty crimes that cost the lives of his friends. He found release in writing and performance, converting to Sufism at age 24, and penning the memoir that informed this film adaptation, which stars Marc Zinga (2015 César Award nominee for Best Male Newcomer) in the role of young Régis.
Shot in black and white, the film visually and thematically recalls Mathieu Kassovitz’s seminal drama “a Haine.”
Strand Releasing is eyeing a fall theatrical run for “May Allah Bless France.” By the way, Strand also picked up and released, in the USA, another much buzzed about, César Award nominated French drama that also screened at TIFF last fall, “Girlhood.”
Check out the sharp-looking trailer below: