Dubai-based Barajoun Entertainment, the studio behind the UAE’s first feature-length animation Bilal, which premieres at DIFF today (Dec 10), has revealed details of its next project.

Based on an original idea by Barajoun co-founder and Bilal co-director Ayman Jamal, the new production will revolve around a musician, who was active during the Islamic era in Spain around 700AD and continues to influence classical music to this day.

“Like Bilal, it is based on a true story and a forgotten hero. This is an approach we like to take at Barajoun,” said Jamal, who declined to reveal the exact identity of the protagonist.

US screenwriter Will Csaklos, whose story consultant credits include Finding Nemo and The Princess And The Frog, has just delivered the screenplay. 

“He was a guru musician who still influences music to this day. I also love the story because it’s set at a time when Spain was a centre for the arts,” Jamal added. Pre-production is scheduled to start early next year.

Bilalrecently received a warm reception at the Doha’s Ajyal Youth Film Festival and will make its UAE premiere in a red carpet gala screening at DIFF. The film is based on the real-life story of an African slave living 1,000 years ago who heroically secured his freedom thanks to his beautiful voice.

Produced entirely in Dubai over a three-year period, it involved 360 animation and CGI talents from around the world, whose credits include 300, Shrek and Lord Of The Rings.

Jamal reports strong interest in the film from European distributors following its Doha screening and six US distributors are currently looking at the film. “We’re planning to take the film to Berlin next year so we would hope to have a deal finalised by the end of December,” said Jamal.