Since March of this year, a team of five former refugees from Syria and Iran has been programming a monthly film evening for the refugees housed in the former prison Bijlmerbajes, and for the local residents. The team programmes each edition with EYE, IDFA, IFFR and the Fantastisch Kinderfilmfestival in turn. This first IFFR edition of the Bijlmerbajes Bios cinema event features The Idol by Palestinian-Dutch filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad. The film screened at IFFR last year, ending up in second place in the audience award rankings.
The heart-warming feature The Idol tells the true story of Palestinian singer Mohammad Assaf, whose winning of the Arab Idol competition in 2013 gave his homeland a rare taste of victory. From the wedding parties at which he makes his singing debut as a boy to the enormous pressure he feels during the final of Arab Idol, with all of Palestine glued to the TV, Assaf always embodies his country, yearning for freedom.
The programme team selected The Idol owing to the topicality of the Palestine crisis, but also because of the film’s hopeful slant. “It’s a light, funny story, with a real hero in the lead role”, the programmers say. And the fact that the film is in Arabic with English subtitles also gives it great added value: “It means we can reach people from different backgrounds.”
Since the summer of 2016, part of Amsterdam’s former Bijlmerbajes prison has been converted into housing for refugees, with some 600 refugees currently living there. The Bijlmerbajes Bios cinema event takes place every month, either indoors or – this month for example – outdoors in the ‘Lola Lik’ cultural hub. Solar World Cinema, the initiator of the project, is providing the facilities for these outdoor screenings with its mobile cinema. In the context of IFFR Travelling Cinema, IFFR joins Bijlmerbajes Bios every two months.
Location: Bijlmerbajes Bios / Lola Lik, H.J.E. Wenckebachweg 48, 1096 AN Amsterdam. The film starts as soon as the sun is down. Entrance is free.