Imagenation Abu Dhabi announces world premiere of ‘journey to Mecca’

Published December 22nd, 2008 - 08:09 GMT

Imagenation Abu Dhabi announces world premiere of ‘journey to Mecca’

With the story of the Hajj shown for the first time on IMAX, thousands expected to attend free screenings at Emirates Palace between 7-9 January

Imagenation Abu Dhabi, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media Company, announces the world premiere of ‘Journey to Mecca’, an historic production by Cosmic Picture and SK Films, released by SK Films in association with National Geographic.  The film, shot in ultra-high definition IMAX format, chronicles the travels of Ibn Battuta on his first holy pilgrimage in 1325 as well as the contemporary Hajj as it is performed today. ‘Journey to Mecca’ will be screened in Arabic and English exclusively, outside and under the stars, on the grounds of the Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi, between 7-9 January 2009.  The performances are free to attend.
Mohamed Khalaf Al-Mazrouei, chairman of Abu Dhabi Media Company and Imagenation Abu Dhabi commented:  “We are proud to offer everyone in Abu Dhabi the chance to witness this spectacular, inspirational film which provides a unique insight into one of history’s great journeys to Mecca.  It will provide audiences locally and internationally with a powerful, larger-than-life cinematic experience that celebrates the true cultural and religious heritage of the Arab world.”
Edward Borgerding, CEO of Abu Dhabi Media Company and Imagenation Abu Dhabi, said: “Imagenation is delighted to host the world premiere of a film which portrays a beautiful theme with a beautiful message.  Journey to Mecca has the power to educate, entertain and unite diverse audiences in an engaging and accessible way.   We are proud to be part of a collaboration that brings together the world class talents of Jake Eberts, Cosmic Picture and SK Films to benefit the community here in Abu Dhabi”
Narrated by Oscar-winning actor Ben Kingsley, ‘Journey to Mecca’ assembled a team of local and international technical and religious experts to bring to life the incredible and historic journey of Ibn Battuta.  The film was shot in Mecca with three IMAX cameras and an 85 man crew.  This was the first production granted permission to film the annual pilgrimage from within the Grand Mosque and from the air using the spectacular giant screen IMAX format.
Jake Eberts, executive producer and chairman of National Geographic Feature Films, added: “’Journey to Mecca’ is truly a huge cinematic achievement, not just in the careful planning and production behind it but also in its portrayal of one of the most significant acts of religious devotion in the world.  IMAX is the only film format that could possibly capture the loneliness, the spectacle, and ultimately the grandeur of Ibn Battuta’s journey. This is a story that the whole world, regardless of religion, needs to witness.”
Taran Davies, Producer and CEO of Cosmic Picture, who conceived of the concept for 'Journey to Mecca' with fellow producer Dominic Cunningham-Reid in 2004, commented:  "We set out to tell the story of one man's journey to Mecca to perform the Hajj - a story similar to the epic voyages made by millions of travelers for over a thousand years to this sacred city. We are extremely proud to present for the first time on IMAX the truly spectacular images of the Hajj as it was performed in the 14th century and today, and to show how this central pillar of the Islamic faith is a celebration of the Prophet Abraham, father to Muslims, Christians and Jews alike, and is, at its heart, about peace, friendship and equality."
Journey to Mecca tells the story of Ibn Battuta, (played by Chems Eddine Zinoun) a young scholar, who leaves Tangier in 1325 on an epic and perilous journey, travelling alone from his home in Morocco to reach Mecca, some 3,000 miles to


the east. Along the route he meets an unlikely stranger, the Highwayman (played by Hassam Ghancy) who becomes his protector and eventual friend.
‘Journey to Mecca’ is dedicated to the memory of Chems Eddine Zinoun who passed away in a car accident shortly after completing the movie. 
Commenting on the sad loss of the lead actor, Producer and CEO of SK Films, Jonathan Barker, said: "Chems told me he felt grateful and honoured to be in this film – especially if it meant more understanding of the richness of his culture and more respect between East and West. 
“My fellow producers and I are thrilled that the world premiere of this extraordinary and unique film is being aired in such an extraordinary and unique setting in Abu Dhabi. Watching Ibn Battuta travel to Mecca in 1325 and experiencing the film on the specially built giant outdoor IMAX screen together with  thousands of other people will truly be an experience to remember.”
Commenting on the legacy of ‘Journey to Mecca’, Producer and Chairman, Cosmic Picture, Dominic Cunningham-Reid said:  “The last four years making this film has been a wonderful journey for us. We are very proud of this, the first giant screen film ever made on the Hajj and deeply grateful to the thousands of people who contributed to its making - especially to our special group of investors and supporters who believed in the importance of this film from the beginning. We hope it will move people from all walks of life for generations to come. On behalf of all producers, cast and crew we thank Imagenation and Abu Dhabi Media Company for launching Journey to Mecca into the world in a manner Ibn Battuta himself would have appreciated - outdoors and under the stars.  May it travel as far and wide into the world as he did.”

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