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Synopsis: The Accidental Rebel is a tense drama about a young musician who flees the Syrian civil war to attend university in Germany. Soon, though, his idyllic life is shattered by the news that his rebellious older brother has been captured by the army, and he leaves his German best friend and pregnant Icelandic wife to sneak into Syria ‘for a few days’ to try to rescue his brother. But nothing goes according to plan, and the conflict he sought to escape threatens to destroy not only him, but everyone he loves.

Rated

Not Rated

Language

English, Arabic, German

Run Time

108 minutes

Starring

Mehdi Meskar (Karim)
Emily Cox (Lily)
Jonas Nay (Max)
Husam Chadat (Hadi)
Amira Ghazalla (Miriam)

Directed by

Randa Chahoud

Written by

Randa Chahoud

Produced by

Clementina Hegewisch
Johannes Jancke

Edited by

Adrienne Hudson

Prod. Company

Neue Impuls Film Produktionsgesellschaft mbH - www.neueimpuls.de
Lightburst Pictures GmbH - www.lightburst-pictures.de
Cactus World Films

Director's Statement

In the year 2012, I met a Libyan who was studying in Berlin when his brother was arrested by Gaddafi’s army. When he learned about the arrest, he decided to risk everything – his relationship, his studies, his life – to go to war against Gaddafi.

In Germany, we live in a rather comfortable position: Our country causes a lot of harm in the world, but you can’t see the blood on our hands. We don’t have to pick up a gun in order to kill someone. So, it’s easy to say: “I am a pacifist.” But what happens if someone close to us is missing in action, or worse, is being tortured or abducted?
I find it difficult to act morally correct, if I am personally involved.

As the daughter of a Syrian, by necessity the theme of violence has taken up a big part of my thoughts since the war started.

My father never wanted to leave his country of birth but has been forced to live abroad for decades. In our home, there was a constant flow of exiled Arabic friends and acquaintances, staying up late into the night having political discussions with my parents. Often, that was the background music I would fall asleep to as a child. This restless mood, this nearly celebrated fighting spirit affected me, and when the Civil War broke out, it was clear that I wanted to make a movie that encompassed this feeling.

In times of “angst”, in times, when it feels like a wave of terrorism is rolling over us, we Europeans have the tendency to think that we are different from people directly involved in the conflict. People who kill are different from us. Someone who takes up a weapon and goes off to fight in Syria is different.

With this movie I want to say – No. We are not really different. In many ways, these fighters are just like us. Our main character, Karim, grew up in a tolerant and open home with middle class, well-educated parents. He did not get radicalized or traumatized by violence in childhood. Nevertheless, he gets sucked into this vicious cycle of violence and war.

My Syrian roots allowed me to immerge myself deeply into this subject matter during the writing and production process. I talked not only with my family, but with high ranking members of the opposition, with political prisoners, with members of the FSA, and also with supporters of President Assad’s regime.

In fact, there is not a single scene in my screenplay that is not connected to or influenced by a personal story somebody told me. These numerous debates helped me develop an inside view on the whole conflict.

My topmost goal is empathy and authenticity. Therefore, it was important for me to involve as many Syrians as possible in the production – in the cast as well as the crew. We have Syrians in the main cast, in many supporting roles and many of our extras are Syrians as well. A lot of them are refugees who just recently made it to Europe and brought their own, often traumatic, war experiences with them and thereby into the movie.

Besides having the right cast and crew, good partners are crucial for the success of our film and to tell our story to as wide an audience as possible. For this same reason, I am very happy that from early on in the production, we have had the support of the British Syrian production company Cactus World Films. Through them, we got in contact with music supervisor Hani Asfari, who has enriched the project with his connections and vast knowledge of Arabic music and musicians.

I am eager to provoke the audience with this anti-war-love story and am looking forward to controversy and public dispute, as I believe opinions will be as numerous as there will be viewers.

This is especially true when questions of moral and ethics are at stake. Doing the right thing even in a crisis, when our lives and all we believe in are suddenly turned upside down, is ever so difficult. This is even truer if people we love are in danger.

Randa Chahoud

Director's Bio

Randa Chahoud, born into a Syrian-German family, studied directing at the German Film- and Television Academy Berlin (dffb).
She had internships with photographers, stage designers, and participated in courses by Michael Ballhaus at Martin Scorsese’s shooting of GANGS OF NEW YORK.
As director and writer of the ZDF Science Fiction Series IJON TICHY – RAUMPILOT (D, production: Sabotage Films, broadcaster: ZDF) Randa Chahoud was nominated twice for the Grimme Award (2008 + 2012) and won the German Television Award 2007 (Newcomer).
In 2017 she directed the ZDF-Neo Drama-Series BRUDER – SCHWARZE MACHT (D, production: Aspekt media, broadcaster ZDF-Neo).
Additionally, 2005 she was a Berlinale Jury Member for the Peace Award.
In 2019 Randa Chahoud directed one episode of TATORT MÜNSTER – LAKRITZ (D, Release date Nov 3, 2019, broadcaster: ARD) – with 12,87 million viewers one of the highest score of the year. The English-language movie THE ACCIDENTAL REBEL (DE/GB, production: Neue Impuls Film, German distributer: Farbfilm, world sales: EAST WEST Filmdistribution), written and directed by Randa Chahoud, had its world premiere in the Flash Forward competition section at the 24th edition of the Busan International Film Festival (October, 2019). At its German premiere at 41. Max Ophüls Prize Festival (January, 2020) THE ACCIDENTAL REBEL won two awards: The Best Lead Actor for Mehdi Meskar and the Pupils Jury Award for the best film.
At the moment Randa Chahoud has just finished the post production of the historical spy-thriller TV-Series DEUTSCHLAND 89 (Amazon Prime, release: autumn 2020) and is co-creating with screenwriter Arne Ahrens the SciFi-TV-Series PROJECT GOLIATH.
In autumn 2020 she will start shooting LEGAL AFFAIRS, a new Drama-Series for the broadcaster ARD.

Randa Chahoud lives with her husband and her children in Halberstadt, Saxony-Anhalt.

Awards

Filmfestival Max Ophüls Preis - Germany - 2020

Best Upcoming Actor (Mehdi Meskar)

Filmfestival Max Ophüls Preis - Germany - 2020

Best Film (Youth Jury) (Film)

Nominations

Busan International Film Festival - South Korea - 2019

Best Film (Flash Forward Competition)

Official selection

Busan International Film Festival - South Korea - 2019

Filmfestival Max Ophüls Preis - Germany - 2020

Country of Origin

Germany

Production Year

2019

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