Film

Animated Film ‘Bilal’ Inspired By an Ethiopian Slave Who Became ‘Voice Of Islam’ Gets Full Trailer

Barajoun Entertainment’s official trailer for animated feature film ’Bilal: A New Breed of Hero’ is here.

Remember when we reported on the teaser for Bilal: A New Breed of Hero, Barajoun Entertainment’s inaugural film last year?  Well, the official trailer is here, and it’s perfectly timed with the film’s premiere for Animation Day at Cannes Film Festival on May 14 ― a major milestone for the Dubai-housed animation studio.


Featuring the voice of British-Nigerian “Lost” actor Adewale Akinnuoya-Agbaje, who will double as producer, the CG-animated production is inspired by real life superhero Bilal Ibn Rabah, a former slave from Ethiopia who converted to Islam and became Prophet Muhammed’s confidante.

Here’s a quick summary via Shadow and Act:

A thousand years ago, one boy with a dream of becoming a great warrior is abducted with his sister and taken to a land far away from home. Thrown into a world where greed and injustice rule all, Bilal finds the courage to raise his voice and make a change. Inspired by true events, this is a story of a real hero who earned his remembrance in time and history.

The animation, having been in production for eight years, is slated for a September 2016 release. It has distribution in the Middle East, but is still looking for a home with USA and European distributors, according to its producer and Shadow and Act.

While we wait for the film’s debut, watch the official full trailer above.

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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