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Raised in a refugee camp in the ramshackle Gaza Strip, singer Mohammed Assaf emerged as a symbol of Palestinian resilience as he persevered to win the "Arab Idol" television contest.Assaf had to coax an Egyptian border guard to let him through – in the film version, Assaf sings a religious tune for him.Abu-Assad spoke to Assaf about potentially starring in the film version of his life, but instead chose the '48 Palestinian actor Tawfeek Barhom, who portrays the young star as serious and determined in contrast to the giddy world of aspiring pop singers.The film, which premiered last year at the Toronto International Film Festival, enjoyed an enthusiastic response as it was screened recently at a rare Gaza film festival, where around three-quarters of the 1.7 million people are refugees.Abu-Assad said "The Idol" was the first movie to be shot in Gaza since Palestinian director Michel Khleifi went some 20 years earlier.
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