A full restored 4K version of controversial production, The Message, will premiere at DIFF on Wednesday, December 13 before its theatrical release in the region during Eid-Al-Fitr 2018. The deal was signed by Trancas International and Front Row Filmed Entertainment.
The Message, which joins the list of groundbreaking classics to receive 4K restoration treatment such as Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, is an epic historical drama by visionary producer/director Moustapha Akkad. It chronicles the life and times of Prophet Muhammad and serves as an introduction to early Islamic history. The pan Moroccan and Libyan production was shot over the course of one year enlisting an international cast with two-time Academy Award winner Anthony Quinn in the starring role. The restored version of The Message will capture the detail of the original print as never seen before.
The film has a storied production as it was initially banned in Arab territories, encountering opposition from authorities and forcing the crew to move to Morocco and recreate model cities of Mecca and Medina for the shoot. During its release it also faced heavy backlash and theatrical banning in most Mideast territories. In the US, the film’s theatrical release was suspended after an extremist group staged a siege in the capital city of Washington D.C. after it was mistakenly believed that Anthony Quinn played the role of Prophet Mohammed on film.
The Message has been officially selected for the 14th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival. This will be the first presentation of the 4K digitally restored print; a pre-cursor to the momentous Eid-Al-Fitr wide release in 2018. The screening will take place on Wednesday 13 December, 8:00 pm at the Vox IMAX screen in the Mall of the Emirates.
Attending the screening will be Malek Akkad, son of late producer and director Moustapha Akkad. Malek is currently producing the Halloween remake with Miramax and Blumhouse. The film’s cast will be reunited after 40 years for the occasion, including Star Wars cult icon Garrick Hagon, Damien Thomas, Mounir Maasri, George Camiller, and Kuwaiti associate producer Mohammed Sanoussi. There will be an informal Q&A with the audience following the screening.
“With SVOD platforms on the rise, this important film that is traditional viewing for billions of Muslim families during Eid can finally be accessed in every home” commented Gianluca Chakra, head of Front Row.
Trancas’ Malek Akkad added: “The Message’s edicts of peace and understanding are extremely prevalent to our times. It is a tribute to my late father. It’s his legacy. I want a new generation of viewers, both Arab and international, to experience his greatest achievement once again. This film is a turning point. It’s a perfect time to reintroduce Arab faith and culture to a worldwide audience.”
The Message is held in the same esteem as Ben Hur or The Ten Commandments. Front Row, in collaboration with Trancas will be handling international sales on the film.