Co-directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (Bad Boys for Life, Ms. Marvel and Batgirl) deliver their most intimate and personal film, REBEL. The film focuses on Kamal Wasaki (Aboubakr Bensaihi) an idealistic Belgian rapper who after getting busted for drugs in his home country flees to Syria to volunteer to help the victims of the war. Upon his arrival, he is left stranded in Raqqa. Soon after he is kidnapped by ISIS where he is forced to shoot their propaganda videos thanks to his experience shooting his own hip-hop videos. Then one day to prove his loyalty, he is charged to kill a US soldier in front of the camera. When this clip is played on the news his family is reluctantly brought into the story. While Kamal’s mother Leila (Lubna Azabal) struggles with what drove her eldest son down that path that has branded her an outcast in her community. She starts to notice Kamal’s younger brother Nassim (Amir El Arbi) has become the target of local ISIS recruiters who wish to use his brother and video games to lure in him. REBEL co-directors, co-writers and co-executive producers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah join us for a conversation on the atrocities of war, the path to radicalization, finding the fragmented humanity in people trapped in these conflicts and why it was so important for them as filmmakers and storytellers to intersperse music and theatre into an otherwise scathing cavalcade of inhumanity.
About the filmmakers – Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah met during their film studies at the Hogeschool voor Wetenschap en Kunsten in Schaerbeek, Brussels, Belgium. During their studies, the first project that they directed was a short film named Broeders (2011), which was appreciated by critics; their later films, Black (2015) and Patser (2018), also received positive reception. They directed the first two episodes in the TV series Snowfall, which aired on July 5 and 12 in 2017, as well as Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike‘s music video “When I Grow Up”, which features American rapper Wiz Khalifa. Besides directing Bad Boys for Life, the duo were also attached to direct Beverly Hills Cop IV, the fourth installment of the Beverly Hills Cop film series, in which Eddie Murphy is set to reprise his role. The duo also directed and executive produced Ms. Marvel for Disney+. In May 2021, it was announced that the duo would direct a film based on Batgirl for HBO Max. In April 2022, it was announced that the duo will no longer direct Beverly Hills Cop IV. In August 2022, after Warner Bros. Discovery made the decision to write the film off for tax purposes, it was announced that the movie Batgirl would not be released. With a reported $90 million budget, Batgirl is one of the highest budget movies in history to be produced, but not released. By February 2023, the duo signed on to direct Bad Boys IV.
“It’s a movie that must be seen to be believed. This fascinating work proves why it’s essential for cinema to have a diverse range of voices telling the stories, and that’s what brings about these incredible shocks and surprises.’ – Kaleem Aftab, Cineuropa
“A harrowing depiction of the insidious nature of militant fanaticism, Rebel tells its story with verve, sympathy, and a sense of style that’s as unapologetic as its horrifyingly logical plot.” – Mark Dujsik, Mark Reviews Movies