Kino Lorber Acquires North American Rights to Moroccan Oscar® Submission Casablanca Beats

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 The Film Marks Director Nabil Ayouch’s Fifth Submission to the Academy Awards® Following Its World Premiere in Competition at Cannes

“Infects the audience with its passion and the unshakable belief that a person who has self-confidence and self-expression can really change society.” – Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter

“The film has the power to engage and amuse, and it also delivers a factor that’s in short supply in this year’s Cannes competition entries: joy.” – Anna Smith, Deadline

“Defiant, uninhibited and full of attitude” – Wendy Ide, Screen Daily 

New York, NY – October 27, 2021 – Kino Lorber announced today it has acquired the North American rights to Casablanca Beats, which had its World Premiere in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. The film was recently announced as Morocco's Official Submission to the 94th Academy Awards®, making it director Nabil Ayouch’s fifth film to be submitted by the country. Kino Lorber previously released Ayouch’s film Horses of God in 2012, also an Oscar® submission.

In Casablanca Beats, a former rapper takes a job at a cultural center in an underprivileged neighborhood in Casablanca. Encouraged by their new teacher, his students try to break free from the weight of restrictive traditions in order to live their passions and express themselves through the arts. The film draws inspiration from Ayouch’s experience growing up in a working-class suburb in France, where he found a creative outlet in a local community center and a way to escape his sometimes-violent surroundings. Ayouch later founded "The Stars of Sidi Moumen" Cultural Center in Casablanca, which is featured in the film along with many of its students, and has touched the lives of thousands of boys and girls.

"When we saw Casablanca Beats at Cannes, we instantly knew it was the perfect film for the moment," said Kino Lorber Senior Vice President Wendy Lidell. "Not only are musicals back in the zeitgeist, but the film's powerful and exuberant message about how art can change the trajectory of a young person's life, and how freedom of expression can unwrite a history of repression, resonate as strongly today as ever.”

“These young people are full of energy and positivity,” added Ayouch. “In a lively and contemporary Casablanca, far from the clichés about the Arab world, they express their desires and their hunger for freedom through hip hop. Their only weapons are their words. And they deserve to be heard everywhere.”

The deal was negotiated by Wendy Lidell of Kino Lorber, Eva Diederix of Wild Bunch International, and CAA Media Finance.  Kino Lorber will release Casablanca Beats theatrically in the U.S. and Canada in early 2022, followed by a digital release on Kino Now and all major TVOD platforms, plus home video.

About Nabil Ayouch
Nabil Ayouch is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma, and is on the founding board of the Arab Film Academy. Five of his feature films have represented Morocco at the Oscars®: Mektoub (1997), Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets (2000), Horses of God (2012), Razzia(2017), and now Casablanca Beats (2021). His films have won over 100 international awards, consistently premiering in top festivals around the world including Cannes, Toronto and Berlin, and have been widely distributed in all major territories. Beyond filmmaking, Ayouch and his production company Ali n' Productions have worked to revitalize Moroccan cinema by supporting young talent through various initiatives aimed at bolstering the local film industry and finding and training new artists. In 2014, Ayouch founded "The Stars of Sidi Moumen" Cultural Center, in the outlying neighborhood of Sidi Moumen, home of the suicide bombers who committed the attacks of May 16, 2003 in Casablanca and inspired Horses of God.

About Kino Lorber
With a library of over 4,000 titles, Kino Lorber Inc. has been a leader in independent art house distribution for 35 years, releasing 30 films per year theatrically under its Kino Lorber, Kino Repertory and Alive Mind Cinema banners, garnering seven Academy Award® nominations in nine years. In addition, the company brings over 350 titles yearly to the home entertainment and educational markets through physical and digital media releases. With an expanding family of distributed labels, Kino Lorber handles releases in ancillary media for Zeitgeist Films, Milestone Films, Cohen Media Group, Greenwich Entertainment, Artsploitation, Palisades Tartan, Menemsha Films, Raro Video, and others, placing physical titles through all wholesale, retail, and direct to consumer channels, as well as direct digital distribution through over 40 OTT services including all major TVOD and SVOD platforms. In 2019, the company launched its new art house digital channel Kino Now which features over 1000 titles from the acclaimed Kino Lorber library. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kino Marquee initiative was launched in 2020 pioneering "virtual theatrical" releases of art-house films with revenue shares that allows audiences to support almost 400 local independent theaters.