TIFF: Adopt Acquires Hany Abu-Assad's 'The Idol' for U.S.

The Idol Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival

The Gaza biopic about 'Arab Idol' winner Mohammed Assaf debuted at the Toronto Film Festival.

Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad's biopic The Idol, about Mohammed Assaf, the first Palestinian singer to win Arab Idol, has gone to Adopt Films for the U.S. market. Adopt will handle the film's U.S. release.

The sale by Seville International follows a world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival for the Gaza biopic — which stars Qais Atallah, Hiba Atallah and Ahmed Qassim. Abu-Assad is best known for two earlier features, Paradise Now and Omar, both of which earned foreign-language-Oscar nominations.

"I am both delighted and honored that Adopt Films will again be distributing a film by Hany Abu Assad, a director who has made some the most powerful films on the Middle East in the last decade,” said Adopt Films' Tim Grady in a statement on Tuesday. The Idol follows Assaf, a 22-year-old wedding singer from a refugee camp in Gaza who went to Cairo to audition for the Middle East version of American Idol.

After finding the hotel where Arab Idol trials were taking place had closed its doors, Assaf climbed over the walls and ended up singing to the other contestants. Eventually Assaf made it to the finals in Beirut and on June 12, 2013 won Arab Idol.

Seville International handles international rights of The Idol outside the Middle East. The U.S. deal was negotiated by Anick Poirier for Seville International and Grady for Adopt Films.

Seville racked up additional sales for The Idol in Toronto, including to Adler Entertainment for Italy, Monolith Films for Poland, Folkets Bio for Sweden and to Denmark's Angel Films.