Cineworld Pulls ‘Lady Of Heaven’ From U.K. Cinemas Following Protests by Muslim Groups, Producer Voices Disappointment

The executive producer of “The Lady from the Sky”, Malik Shlibak, expressed his disappointment at Cineworld’s decision to withdraw his film from UK cinemas following the protests.

The first-time feature film producer, who is also president of the nonprofit organization The Rafida Foundation, said Variety is “very, very disappointed” in the decision, adding: “This is sending a creative message to any group or groups like this that any time you have a slight offense, feel free to demand everyone bow to your way of to think. “

The film was made by UK-based Enlightened Kingdom, where Shlibak is a director of the company, and sold at Cannes’ Marché du Film last year by sales agent Hannibal Pictures. The response at Cannes was “overwhelmingly positive,” Shlibak said. Variety. “He was very well received by Muslims, non-Muslims, all kinds of people in Cannes.”

“Enlightened Kingdom will fight this battle in terms of defending our rights as film producers and the rights of the public to see the film and freedom of expression in general,” Shlibak said.

Mooky Greidinger’s Cineworld, which operates Regal Cinemas in the US and Cineworld and Picturehouse Cinemas in the UK, this week released “The Lady from Heaven,” a story about the Islamic prophet Muhammad’s daughter, Lady Fatima, after protests by Muslim groups.

“Due to recent incidents related to ‘La Dama del Cielo’ screenings, we have made the decision to cancel upcoming screenings of the film across the country to ensure the safety of our staff and patrons,” a Cineworld spokesperson said. Variety.

More than 100 people attended a rally outside Bolton Cineworld on Sunday to protest the film’s screening, according to The Bolton News. A Twitter account called 5Pillars also posted a photograph of a protest that reportedly took place outside a Cineworld in Birmingham on Sunday, which they claimed was attended by 200 people.

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Meanwhile, a petition on Change.org titled “Remove Lady of the Sky from UK Cinemas” [sic] has so far obtained more than 122,000 signatures.

“This film has been created to cause distress to all Muslims and spread false information about Islam,” the petition reads. “The film directly disrespects the Prophet Muhammad, who is portrayed by an actor, deeply shocking and disrespectful to the best of creation. It is also a deeply racist film with all the main negative characters being played by black actors. Furthermore, it also portrays the companions of our Prophet Muhammad in a bad light.

“We demand that cinemas remove this film from their screens and understand that broadcasting it will provoke protests across the country and will not be accepted by Muslims,” the petition concludes before linking to a review of the film titled “pure sectarian filth adulterate”. .”

“The Lady from Heaven” was directed by Eli King and written by Sheikh Al-Habib. “The harrowing journey of Lady Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad,” reads a synopsis on the Enlightened Kingdom website. “Separated by 1400 years, an Iraqi boy, in the middle of a country devastated by war, learns the importance and power of patience. After losing his mother, the boy finds himself in a new home, where a loving grandmother tells the historical story of The Lady and how her suffering as the first victim of terrorism spiraled out of control in the 21st century.”

Under the heading “Creativity Note,” the Enlightened Kingdom website adds that “according to Islamic tradition, during the making of this film, no individual represented a holy personality. The performances of the Holy Personalities were achieved through a unique synthesis of actors, camera effects, lighting, and visual effects.”

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“There is a representation of the Prophet, but it is not a human being acting and presenting himself as the Prophet, which is the most controversial thing, what we are not doing,” Shlibak said. “It is the case that there are groups of Muslims who consider that this is not permissible and it is not allowed in the religion, but there are also many groups of Muslims who agree with that… There have been artistic representations of the Prophet throughout the Middle East for centuries. , so it’s not black and white, it’s a gray area.”

Shlibak, who said he has received death threats “for years” for his work, added that while he was disappointed that Cineworld pulled the film, “I don’t feel negative overall. The crew is actually feeling pretty positive because it’s a big marketing push for the movie, so I’d like to thank the protesters for that.”

The Vue cinema chain continues to show “La Dama del Cielo”.

A Vue spokesperson said Variety: “Vue takes very seriously the responsibilities that come with providing a platform for a wide variety of content and believes in showcasing films of interest to diverse communities across the UK. Vue will only display a movie once a movie has been evaluated and rated by the BBFC (The Independent British Board of Film Classification). ‘La Dama del Cielo’ has been accredited by the BBFC and is showing in several of our cinemas. Decisions about how long a film stays on display are made on a site-by-site basis and are based on a variety of business and operational factors.

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