In March, Kino Lorber acquired all U.S. rights to Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch's Les Chevaux De Dieu (Horses Of God) which premiered at Cannes 2012, and was Morocco's entry for Best Foreign Language Film consideration at the Academy Awards this year (although it didn't make the short list of 5 nominees).
Today, Kino has announced that the U.S.A. theatrical premiere of the film is set for Wednesday, May 14 at Film Forum in New York City.
The film is loosely based on the terrorist attacks that took place in Casablanca on May 13, 2003. Ayouch was shocked by these attacks that were committed by a group of kids from a neighborhood that he knew very well, and with this film, he wanted to essentially humanize the suicide bombers, and show that they themselves are/were also victims.
Last October, as we reported, Jonathan Demme attached his name to the film, hoping to help its Oscar chances, but also to ensure that it's distributed in the USA. One out of two ain't bad, now that Kino has picked up the film, and set a release date.
Demme's interest in the film begun after he met the filmmaker, Ayouch, at the Marrakesh Film Festival in December 2012, where it screened.
”Horses Of God is simply one of the very most powerful pictures that I have ever seen... Extraordinarily gripping and moving, the cinematic style is really breathtaking. I can’t remember being so blown away by the marriage of visuals and storytelling since the first time I saw Marty Scorsese’s Mean Streets and Bertolucci’s The Conformist way back then,” shared an enthusiastic Demme.
The film was reviewed very well after its Cannes 2012 debut, although its POV (showing that the suicide bombers were victims themselves) might have been what (in part) kept American distributors away over the last 20 months, prior to its Kino pickup in March.
The Hollywood Reporter called it an...
... Engrossing, realistic study of a Moroccan slum and how it becomes a breeding ground for young terrorists.
... this is less a film about terrorists than an intimate portrait of boys growing up in a toxic environment. All the non-pro actors turn in natural performances... Tech work is high quality throughout...
And Variety had this to say about the film:
... the pic delves into a shantytown atmosphere of machismo, wounded pride and powerlessness, which collectively act as a petri dish for fanaticism. By spending considerable time on milieu and the friends as kids, Ayouch sets his film apart, delineating personalities that avoid the cookie-cutter repetition seen elsewhere. "Horses" will trot confidently into Euro arthouses.
Ayouch is currently working on his follow-up to God's Horses - a sci-fi film about how the Arab world will look 50 years from now, which he describes as a major project and a “futuristic fresco of Arab society.”
His Horses Of God writer Jamal Belmahi, will pen the script for the currently untitled film which will tell the tale of a group of privileged elite living in high-security enclaves, completely cut off from the poor masses.
While we wait for that film to become a reality, put Horses Of God on your to-see list (starting May 14).
Watch the new release trailer below: