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NYFF Spotlight: “The 99 – Unbound”

The 99

Film: The 99 – Unbound
Director: Dave Osborne
Program: Special Events
Tickets: Oct. 2

Why you should see it:
The 99 is the first comic book with origins in Islamic lore and culture, and has enjoyed success because of its unique premise: a compelling story about good versus evil that comes with the added benefit of promoting cross-cultural cooperation. It introduces a positive view of the Muslim world in the West, and also gives Muslim children heroes of their own to look up to.

Since its first US publication in 2007, The 99 has garnered widespread acclaim as an exciting comic book with Muslim superheroes whose virtues have universal appeal. Serious press has been devoted to The 99, and it was named one of “20 Trends Sweeping the Globe” by Forbes in 2008. Its heroes joined forces with the Justice League of America for a crossover series with DC Comics in 2010 (including a fully-clothed Wonder Woman). President Obama even lauded its creator, Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, for creating “the most innovative response” for fostering interfaith dialogue and education. The first animated feature based on the comic books, directed by Dave Osborne, will premiere at the New York Film Festival on October 2 and is a great option for the whole family!

Track record:
The 99 - Unbound will have its world premiere at the 49th New York Film Festival!

What the critics are saying:
While the film will enjoy its first viewing at our festival, the comics and their creator have met with much praise. Its success and potential have been written about in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek, among others. Al-Mutawa was interviewed by the Atlantic Monthly last year, where The 99 was credited with having “everything a good comic book needs – evil in the world and superheroes to fight it.”

About the creators:
Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa is Columbia Business School-educated Kuwaiti psychologist who, as the father of five sons, wanted to create a comic book that would speak to the ideals of children in the Islamic world. He came up with The 99, about superheroes that each embodied one of the 99 attributes of Allah, which went on to experience international success. Dr. Al-Mutawa has since become the subject of a documentary, Wham! Bam! Islam!, and was chosen to give a TED talk at the 2010 TED Global Conference in Oxford, England.

Director Dave Osborne has been involved in animation for British television for over 20 years, both as an animator and a director. His credits include The Animals of Farthing Wood (1993-1995), Wiggly Park (1998), Cubeez (2001-2006), Shadow of the Elves (2004) and Friends and Heroes (2007-2009).

What the NYFF programmers say:
The 99 is a posse of super-powered heroes based on derivatives of the 99 attributes of Allah; there’s Bari the Healer, Darr the Afflicter, Hadya the Guide, and Jabbar the Powerful—an international selection of young people each given their powers by the mysterious Noor Stones. The 99 can now be seen here in its first animated feature film, directed by Dave Osborne. Bring the kids! Afterwards, Dr. Al-Mutawa will be on hand to discuss the ideas behind the project and some of his plans for introducing The 99 to America.”

For more information about The 99 – Unbound, check out the film’s official website and Facebook, and Dr. Al-Matawa’s Twitter page.

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