(K. Brent Tomer),
BIBLICAL epics are all the rage. “Noah” and “Exodus: Gods and Kings” burst onto screens in 2014. “The Young Messiah”, “Risen” and “Last Days in the Desert” (2016) explored the chronological gaps in the Gospels. Christ’s ministry takes centre-stage in the blockbuster remake of Ben Hur (2016). Yet Hollywood directors are not alone in cashing in on all things religious. Islamic films and television series have also experienced huge growth in recent years. “Kingdom of Solomon” (2010) proved a big hit in Iran. “Shajarat al-Duur” (2013) highlighted the first Muslim queen of Egypt, while “Harat al-Sheikh” and “Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal” (2016) both covered the early years of Islamic history. But who makes these films, and will they ever appeal to secular audiences?
Islamic cinema certainly has the spending power. “He Who Said No” (2015), an Iranian film about the Battle of Karbala (a Sunni-Shia clash in 680AD) had a rumoured budget of $70m. Tariq Anwar, an Oscar winner, was enlisted to help edit the film. In 2012, Qatar and Saudi Arabia pumped 200m Saudi…Continue reading