The film will be available for viewing through iTunes, Google Play, Du, Ooredoo, Omantel, and OSN from February 25.
Lion of the Desert, Moustapha Akkad’s historical epic featuring legendary stars Anthony Quinn, Oliver Reed and Rod Steiger, is finally receiving a digital release via MENA distributor Front Row and US producers Trancas International Films will be releasing Lion of the Desert, Moustapha Akkad’s historical epic on digital and VOD platforms to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
First released in theatres in 1981, Lion of the Desert is Akkad’s follow up to his classic The Message. Both films are highly regarded within Islamic and Arabic communities.
Lion of the Desert is the story of Omar Mukhtar, the nationalist Libyan rebel leader who led the push against Benito Mussolini and the Italian fascist forces controlling Libya pre-World War 2. Production of the film was split between Italy and Libya, where battle scenes were shot on-location in the desert.
The film’s central figure Omar Mukhtar is revered by Libyans and Arabs in general for his perceived heroism in leading the Bedouin liberation against the colonial Italian army.
Lion of the Desert includes archive footage from Italy’s government documenting Libyan concentration camps where thousands of locals were held during the war campaign. Libya was a former Italian colony.
The film’s release was banned in Italy as authorities deemed it historically misleading, accusing it of “falsifying” facts and tarnishing the reputation of its’ national army.
Commenting on the film, Trancas CEO Malek Akkad, said: “Lion of the Desert is one of Arab cinema’s seminal films and I’m very happy that it will finally be available for Arab and international audiences to see on digital. It will be good to celebrate the 40 years of Lion’s release with its’ availability on digital platforms. I’m really looking forward to everyone seeing it.”
Front Row CEO Gianluca Chacra, remarked: “A new generation of viewers can see it too for the first time and in the best possible way. It’s exciting because we’re finally giving MENA audiences wide-scale access to this seminal work through these digital platforms.”