Egyptian-American director Dina Amer’s politically sensitive drama “You Resemble Me,” the story of Hasna Aït Boulahcen who in 2015 was wrongly believed to be Europe’s first female suicide bomber, is getting a Middle East release via Front Row Filmed Entertainment.
Amer’s feature debut, which world premiered positively at the 2021 Venice Film Festival, is a deeply researched character study of the fragile young Muslim woman who became linked to the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris even though she didn’t participate in them. Aït Boulahcen died during an anti-terrorism raid alongside her cousin Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was one of the ringleaders of the coordinated assaults that killed 130 people in the French capital, including 90 at the Bataclan theater.
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Executive-produced by Spike Lee, Spike Jonze, Alma Har’el, and Riz Ahmed, “You Resemble Me” world premiered last year from the Venice Film Festival’s Venice Days section. Pic’s Middle East festival launch followed in December 2021 at Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival where, significantly, the potentially explosive film scored the audience award. The film has won a slew of awards on the festival circuit and Amer and her team have put it forward in hopes that Egypt will make it their submission in the race for the international feature film Oscar.
Following a limited theatrical release “You Resemble Me” will be broadcast later this month across the region by prominent Middle East satellite pay TV and streaming service Orbit Showtime Network (OSN). Pic has also been sold by Front Row to several unspecified regional TVOD channels.
“With ‘You Resemble Me’ Dina Amer has definitely delivered top-notch tour-de-force filmmaking that will stick with audiences for a long time,” said Front Row CEO Gianluca Chakra in a statement for Variety.
“It is with voices like hers and her brother/producing partner Karim that the filmmaking scene in MENA can change for the better,” Chakra added. “We are looking forward to collaborating with them on many more projects in the future. Be it through distribution or production.”
Based on extensive research done by Amer, who is a prize-winning journalist, the potent drama reconstructs the roots of Islamic radicalization in France by depicting the chaotic childhood of Aït Boulahcen in an underprivileged suburb of Paris where she lived with her younger sister, with whom she had a strong bond, as well as her dysfunctional mother, originally from Morocco. After being picked up by the police after stealing food from a market stall, she and her sister were separated and placed in separate foster homes, even though they were desperate to stay together.
Growing up feeling lonely, alienated, eager to be loved and belong somewhere, Aït Boulahcen was eventually lured by her cousin into joining a terror cell after watching the sensationalized media reports of the mass shooting at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015.
She died three days after the Bataclan concert hall attacks in a blast in the Parisian suburbs that occurred when a different suspect detonated his explosives-filled vest.
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