A feature film about a Saudi football team has wrapped in Jeddah.
“Champions” is based on the 2018 Spanish film “Campeones,” which made an impact with its strong social message and tried to change perceptions about people with special needs.
“Campeones” was a commercial success, attracting huge crowds to Spain’s movie theaters and won numerous national film awards.
#WATCH: @HussamMayman speaks to @andresvgomez about the motivation behind making a #Saudi remake with a twist of Spanish film "Campeones," and its message of changing perceptions about people with special needs. More here: https://t.co/Oo24dRIINY pic.twitter.com/73kJ0QZuXv— Arab News (@arabnews) February 12, 2021
Andres Vicente Gomez, the movie’s Oscar-winning producer, said the success of the Spanish movie encouraged him and his team to go for a Saudi remake.
“We thought it was a good opportunity to do something similar here in Saudi Arabia, where you have also a great sensibility toward people with special needs,” he told Arab News. “The story is that of a football team of boys with special needs. We have adapted the story to Saudi Arabia to incorporate your (Saudi) traditions, your culture, their way of living.”
He said some changes were introduced. The Spanish version showed a basketball team, but the Saudi remake is about football.
“Well, Saudi Arabia has a new film industry. It is an important market and we thought it was a great opportunity to (help) develop the Saudi film industry.”
The plot of “Champions” focuses on Khaled, who is played by Saudi actor Yassir Al-Saggaf. Khaled is the assistant coach of a top Saudi football team who, one day after a stressful match, gets into trouble because of his frustration and bad attitude.
He loses his job and is sentenced to the worst possible punishment for his ego — coaching a group of players with learning difficulties.Khaled’s fiance, Nada, is played by the critically acclaimed actress Fatima Al-Banawi.
“Nada’s brother in this film is one of the people with special needs,” she told Arab News.
“I spent hours speaking to his father because I wanted to tune in (to) what it feels like to be a sister of such an individual.”
She was drawn to the film’s story because it was a chance for her to tell the story of a community that she did not see represented and would love to see more of.
“They need to be given the facilities they require. With ‘Champions’ I wanted to be part of telling the story of this community.”
The movie was completely localized to suit audience preferences — the Saudi version even has its own theme song.
“Well, OK, the movie is actually about courage,” said Hasan Hatrash, who composed and sang the theme. “It’s about good perception toward negative outcomes. So I heard this from the director and I kind of swiveled to see what I could do and I thought of having something fun. Usually, I do rock music. But this is my first time to go out of the boundaries and do something more into the pop scene, with more brassy sounds.”
One of the film’s biggest virtues is the casting of the boys who are part of the football team. This was supported by the Help Center, which is based in Jeddah.
The Help Center is a nongovernmental and nonprofit organization dedicated to the welfare of people with special needs.
The film is set for release later this year.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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