Bilal: A New Breed of Hero

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Bilal: A New Breed of Hero
Bilal Poster 01 RGB.jpg
Directed byKhurram H. Alavi
Ayman Jamal
Produced byAyman Jamal
Arif Jilani
Gene Lim
Screenplay byAlex Kronemer
Michael Wolfe
Khurram Alavi
Yassin Kamel
Story byAyman Jamal
StarringAdewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Ian McShane
China Anne McClain
Jacob Latimore
Thomas Ian Nicholas
Fred Tatasciore
Music byAtli Örvarsson
Edited byPatricia Heneine
Barajoun Entertainment
Distributed byVertical Entertainment[1]
Release date
  • 9 December 2015 (2015-12-09) (Dubai Film Festival)
  • 8 September 2016 (2016-09-08) (Dubai)[1]
  • 2 February 2018 (2018-02-02) (United States)
Running time
109 minutes
CountryUnited Arab Emirates[1]
Budget$30 million[2]
Box office$1.9 million[3]

Bilal: A New Breed of Hero is a 2015 English-language Arabic 3D computer-animated action-adventure film produced by Barajoun Entertainment and co-directed by Khurram H. Alavi and Ayman Jamal. With a story by Jamal, the screenplay was written by Alavi, Alex Kronemer, Michael Wolfe and Yassin Kamel. With this film, Jamal aimed to depict heroes from the history of the Arabian Peninsula.

The film depicts the life of Bilal ibn Rabah, who, known for his beautiful voice, was freed from slavery and rose to a position of prominence in 632 AD. The voice cast features Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ian McShane, China Anne McClain, Jacob Latimore, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Fred Tatasciore, Cynthia McWilliams, Jon Curry, Dave B. Mitchell and Michael Gross.

Bilal premiered on December 9, 2015, at the 12th Annual International Dubai Film Festival. Starting September 8, 2016, the film released throughout the MENA region. The film began an international rollout in February 2018.

Bilal won "Best Inspiring Movie" on Animation Day at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. It won "Best Innovative Movie" at the BroadCast Pro Middle East Award 2016. Bilal was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the 2016 Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA), the region's highest accolade for film.


Since he was young, Bilal had always dreamed of being a warrior. However, he becomes captive after a brutal assault kills his mother. A new day dawns when he is sold to Umayyah ibn Khalaf, the richest trader of the Hijaz. Bilal never forgets the day his mother was killed and recalls his mother's advice to always rely on himself to overcome hardships in life.

In 600 AD, Hijaz was an important trade center and meeting place of pagans. Here, rich men hold an overwhelming tyranny over the poor. Umayyah and his merchants are powerful figures whom people blindly obey, however, Bilal never does. By clinging to his dreams, he believes he will be free one day, and although Bilal and his sister spend their childhood under the persecution of Umayyah, their bond remains strong. His sister is as beautiful as a princess, where Bilal misses his mother, and he still has her songs ringing in his heart to inspire him.

Bilal grows up to be a handsome and powerful man, but one day, something happens that will change his life forever. He encounters the master of the merchants, Abu Bakr, but Bilal is no longer the same man. The desire for freedom has spread to his whole body.

His mother's words are still on his mind: "No one can own your soul." However, Umayyah is the owner of his body and tortures him at every opportunity. The goal: punish those who abandon worshiping idols, but Bilal never gives up. His determination and desire for freedom help him stay strong. Finally, the master of merchants Abu Bakr buys Bilal from Umayyah by giving him a fortune. Unfortunately, Bilal's sister is still imprisoned by her owner, Safwan, the son of Umayyah.

After becoming a free man, Bilal becomes a warrior and is considered to be one of the most reputable men in society. His guide is Hamza, who was a famous warrior, and he is told that everyone is equal under the same sun, no matter what the color of their skin. He also manages to realize his dreams that he has been longing for since his childhood, but still, his sister's captivity is a bitter pain in his heart.



Ayman Jamal pursued the project for over seven years, doing intense research in order to pay homage to the countless historical accounts and descriptions of the characters and set locations in the movie. He finally founded Barajoun Entertainment in 2013, establishing the company in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It was truly challenging for Jamal to both open an animation studio and develop the animated feature simultaneously, as both endeavors were the first of their kind within the MENA region. State of the art facilities were employed in the pursuit of industry standard content development, enabling Barajoun to deliver a movie that is on par with any international animated feature.

The film features an ensemble of highly detailed and imaginative elements. It boasts a stylized world with complex characters, setups, props, and environments.


The music was composed by Atli Örvarsson, with additional music by Claudio Olachea, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studio. Örvarsson employed a unique blend of Icelandic music fused with Oriental music in order to develop a language that spoke to a wider audience. Music recording and mixing engineering on the show was done by Steve McLaughlin. Stephen Gallagher performed mix duties during the final mix of the show, also producing the song "Distant Shadows", with lyrics by Khurram H. Alavi.

The musical score and sound design were mixed and finalised at Peter Jackson’s Park Road Post in Wellington, New Zealand. The final mix was handled by academy award-winning Michael Hedges and his team of seasoned PRP engineers.


A special screening was held at the Ajyal Youth Film Festival in Doha, Qatar on November 9, 2015. The film premiered at the 12th Annual Dubai International Film Festival on December 9, 2015. It continued its festival circuit over the course of 2016 being screened in Berlin, Cannes, Annecy, and Toronto. It was released in cinemas all across the MENA region. It was scheduled to be released in the US and other parts of the world on February 2, 2018.

The film has been also released in Turkey dubbed the lead character Bilal by Engin Altan Duzyatan.[clarification needed][5] Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended the premiere show and highly praised the film.[6][7]

Critical reception[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 57% based on 30 commercial reviews (86% on Audience), and an average rating of 5.9/10 (Audience: 4/5) .[8] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 52 out of 100, based on 11 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[9]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The film was officially selected at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival under Best Feature Film. It was also nominated for APSA, the region's highest accolade in film for Best Animated Feature Film after winning "Best inspiring Movie" in Animation Day in Cannes Festival and "Best Innovative Movie" at the BroadCast Pro Middle East Award.


  1. ^ a b c "Bilal: A New Breed of Hero (2015) – Box office / business". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  2. ^ "Press Kit". Bilal Movie. Barajoun Entertainment. Retrieved May 25, 2016.[dead link]
  3. ^ "Bilal: A New Breed of Hero (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  4. ^ "Bilal: A New Breed of Hero (2015) - Full Cast & Crew - IMDb". IMDb. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  5. ^
  6. ^,VJOVHjoPZUmLlvZ1lhdrrQ
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Bilal: A New Breed of Hero (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  9. ^ "Bilal: A New Breed of Hero Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 8 February 2018.

External links[edit]