Cineworld withdraws ‘Blasphemous’ film ‘The Sky Lady’ over protests

The Sky Lady executive producer Malik Shlibak has expressed his disappointment with Cineworld’s decision to withdraw his film from UK cinemas following protests.

The debut producer, who is also president of the nonprofit The Rafida Foundation, said Variety he is “very, very disappointed” by the decision, adding, “This is sending a creative message to any group or groups like this that whenever you have any slight offense, feel free to demand that everyone cave in to yours.” way of thinking. ”

The film was made by Britain’s Enlightened Kingdom, where Shlibak is director of the company, and sold at the Cannes Marché du Film last year by sales agent Hannibal Pictures. The response at Cannes was “extremely positive,” Shlibak said. Variety. “It was very well received by Muslims, non-Muslims, all sorts of people there in Cannes.”

“The Shining Kingdom will fight this battle in terms of defending our rights as filmmakers and the public’s rights to see the film and freedom of speech 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 withdrew “The Lady of Heaven”, a story about the daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, Lady Fatima, following protests by groups. Muslims.

“Due to recent incidents related to the screenings of ‘The Sky Lady’, we have made the decision to cancel upcoming screenings of the film across the country to ensure the safety of our staff and customers,” said a spokesperson for Cineworld. 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 allegedly taking place outside a Cineworld in Birmingham on Sunday, which they claimed 200 people attended.

Meanwhile, a petition on titled “Remove the Sky Lady from UK cinemas” [sic] has already obtained more than 122,000 signatures.

“This film was created to cause suffering to all Muslims, as well as to spread false information about Islam,” the petition reads. “The film directly disrespects 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 portrayed by black actors. Furthermore, it also portrays our Prophet Muhammad’s companions in a bad light.

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

“The Lady of Heaven” was directed by Eli King and written by Sheikh Al-Habib. “The moving journey of Lady Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Muhammad,” reads a synopsis on the Illuminated Kingdom website. “Separated for 1400 years, an Iraqi child, in the middle of a war-torn country, learns the importance and power of patience. After losing her mother, the child finds herself in a new home, where a loving grandmother narrates 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 title “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, in-camera effects, lighting and visual effects.”

“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, which we are not doing,” Shlibak said. “It is the case that there are groups of Muslims who find this inadmissible and not allowed in the religion, but there are also many groups of Muslims who are fine with it… 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 had received death threats “for years” because of his work, added that while he was disappointed that Cineworld pulled the film, “I’m not feeling negative at all. In fact, the team is feeling quite positive because this is a huge marketing push for the film, so I would like to thank the protesters for that.”

“The Lady of Heaven” is still being shown by the theater chain Vue.

A spokesperson for Vue said Variety: “Vue takes seriously the responsibilities that come with providing a platform for a wide range of content and believes in showing films of interest to diverse communities across the UK Vue will only screen one film once the BBFC (the Independent British Board of Film Classification) has rated and rated a film. ‘The Lady of Heaven’ has been accredited by the BBFC and is playing in several of our cinemas. Decisions about how long a film remains on display are made on a site-by-site basis and based on a variety of commercial and operational factors.”

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