An Iranian director has announced plans to produce a $30 million film on the life of the Prophet Muhammad, a move some have asserted will rival Qatar’s upcoming project.
According to Hollywood Reporter, shooting on the movie, which is being directed by Majid Majidi, began in October. Differences between the films are expected to be stark because Qatar is working with Sunni cleric Yusuf Al Qaradawi, while Iran is home to the Shia sect, whose adherents hail from a different historical perspective.
“It is a real political battle, as each side has a different interpretation of the Quran,” says Iranian cinema scholar Philippe Ragel of the University of Toulouse. “It is out of the question for both sides that the other should be left alone to appropriate the prophet’s life.”
In December, Qatar-based company Al Noor Holding Group said its English-language blockbuster, which was originally slated to cost about $150 million and be presented as a trilogy, will now be in seven parts and may cost up to $1 billion.
The Prophet will not be directly depicted in the film, but his companions will be, Al Qaradawi previously said after consulting with dozens of Islamic scholars on the matter.
However, plans to show him in the Iranian film (though not his face) have already prompted Egypt’s Al Azhar University to call on Iran to ban the movie, HR states.