Screened as part of NZIFF 2016

The Idol 2015

Ya Tayr El Tayer

Directed by Hany Abu-Assad

There’s no such thing as instant stardom in this rousing dramatisation of the true story of Mohammed Assaf, a boy from Gaza whose golden voice took the Arab world by storm in 2013.

Palestine / Qatar / The Netherlands / UAE / UK In Arabic with English subtitles
96 minutes CinemaScope / DCP



Ali Jaafar
Amira Diab


Hany Abu-Assad
Sameh Zoabi


Ehab Assal


Eyas Salman

Production designer

Nael Kanj


Habib Shehadeh Hanna


Qais Atallah (young Mohammed)
Hiba Atallah (young Nour)
Ahmad Qassim (young Ashraf)
Abdelkarim Abu Baraka (young Omar)
Tawfeek Barhom (older Mohammed)
Saber Shreim (older Ashraf)
Ahmed Al Rokh (older Omar)
Nadine Labaki (Idol judge)


London 2015

Recommended for ages 9+

Acclaimed Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now, Omar) directs this fictionalised feature based on the story of Mohammed Assaf, the Gazan wedding singer who became a worldwide sensation after winning the ‘Arab Idol’ competition in 2013. The Idol chronicles Mohammed’s remarkable rise from childhood in Gaza to acclaim as an international symbol of hope.

A lack of real instruments doesn’t stop honey-voiced ten-year-old Mohammed and his sassy sister, Nour (with whom he shares a deep bond, a tiny bedroom and an obsession with music), from performing wherever and whenever they can with their makeshift band. It’s Nour who recognises the true potential of her brother’s talent, and makes him promise to share his gift with the world. A decade later, Mohammed, now a college student and part-time cab driver, ventures on a journey beset with seemingly insurmountable obstacles to fulfil his promise. — NM
“An idealistic appreciation of music as a way of bridging boundaries through a unifying appeal to beauty, gliding past differences in the soulful pleasure of song.” — Nicolas Rapold, NY Times