A ‘Grendizer’ movie? It’s a ‘Go,’ says Nagai, creator of the famous Japanese anime

Grendizer creator Go Nagai signs his hand-drawn Arab News logo at the publication’s Japanese launch. (AN photo)
Updated 26 October 2019

A ‘Grendizer’ movie? It’s a ‘Go,’ says Nagai, creator of the famous Japanese anime

  • Dubbed version of Grendizer had a significant impact on Middle East pop culture
  • Go Nagai has said it may take years for him to finalize his Grendizer remake plans

TOKYO: Go Nagai, the Japanese mangaka who created one of the region’s most famous anime to date, has teased the idea of a film featuring everyone’s favorite Super Robot.

Speaking to Arab News exclusively from his Tokyo Studio, Nagai said he has plans to create a feature film for Grendizer, similar to the one created for Mazinger, another one of his hits.

Grendizer has a long history in the region. Created in 1975, the dubbed version of the anime has a significant impact on pop culture in the Middle East.

Grendizer protagonist Duke Fleed.

It was an instant hit in the Arab world and remains one of the biggest anime to ever impact local audiences.

However, the last episode of Grendizer was produced in 1977, and audiences have been clamoring for a movie since then.

A 3D remake of Mazinger, Mazinger Z Infinity, was released in 2017, and many speculate that Grendizer could be the next series to receive an update. 

“I’m talking to animation companies to create one, but it hasn’t been finalized yet,” he said. “But I believe we can do it.”

While many fans have speculated that a movie release may be imminent, coinciding with the 45th anniversary of Grendizer next year, Nagai said it may take years for him to finalize his plans.

Nagai also said the film could be an opportunity to introduce the series to newer fans.

“The audience of Mazinger Z Infinity was about half old fans of Mazinger Z, and half from the new generation.

“Those who were original fans probably saw the movie and felt nostalgic, and the people from the new generation were probably surprised to see such a movie with intense robot action.”

ALSO READ: How Japanese anime Grendizer galvanized the Arab world

However, Italian fan Luigi Stella, too excited to wait for an official movie, created a fan-made trailer for a Grendizer film, which is available to watch on YouTube.

The trailer renders Grendizer (or Goldrake as he is known in Italy) and Duke Fleed in 3D, with loving attention to detail, teasing what could be a phenomenal production.

Another passionate fan filmmaker is Syrian 3D artist Walat Mustafa, whose YouTube page features videos detailing what a 3D version of Grendizer might look like.

Using the original audio from the old dub, he recreates the anime’s environments — models — and of course the robot itself — in videos that can be as short as 50 seconds to as long as half an hour.

One person, in particular, would love to see a Grendizer film come to fruition. Jihad Al-Atrash, the actor who portrayed Duke Fleed in the original Arabic dub of Grendizer, would love to reprise his role, provided the circumstances were right.

“I’ve heard the rumors, but it’s all been talk at this point,” he told Arab News. “But I’m definitely interested. While I haven’t got much interest in participating in a fan film or an unofficial film, I would love to be involved in an official remake or sequel.”

UK-based Arab film festival to go digital due to COVID-19 pandemic

Updated 13 August 2020

UK-based Arab film festival to go digital due to COVID-19 pandemic

  • ‘SAFAR From Home’ to feature films from Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia

LONDON: The SAFAR Film Festival, the only dedicated biennial pan-Arab film festival in the UK, is to take place digitally in September, the Arab British Centre has announced.

The changes come in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, which has forced multiple cultural events in the UK and elsewhere to be cancelled or postponed.

Scheduled to take place from Sept. 13-20, this year’s edition, titled “SAFAR From Home,” will be the fifth edition of the festival and will offer five free screenings, available to UK viewers, and five live events, available worldwide, featuring leading figures from the filmmaking industry across the Arab world.

The move to take the festival digital was funded in part by the Council of Arab Ambassadors and the British Film Institute’s COVID-19 Relief Fund.

Curated by Rabih El-Khoury, the festival will explore Arab cinema through the theme of journeys (‘Safar’ is the word for journey in Arabic).

It will feature films from Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia, with additional panel discussions on topics such as migration and life in the Arab diaspora.

On Sept. 20, the Arab British Centre will also host a panel of festival guests to discuss the growth of SAFAR since 2012 and the evolution of Arab cinema over the past eight years. 

El-Khoury said: “In a year when travel became impossible, we wanted to offer viewers the chance to travel to the Arab world and beyond through their screens at home. And while this program is an invitation to imaginary journeys, the truth around the protagonists of these films is far from being a fictitious one.

“They defy their harsh realities. They question bewildering surroundings. They face unconceivable challenges. They lead quite impossible journeys. Yet through courage, resilience, but also a lot of inspiration, they give a sense of meaning to their journeys,” he added.

Amani Hassan, the program director and also the acting executive director of the Arab British Centre, said: “We are very happy to announce the ‘SAFAR From Home’ initiative today. Following the difficult decision to postpone the in-person festival until 2021, we’re marking what would have been the landmark fifth edition with this alternative, virtual edition as a way to bring our audiences together and support the industry during this unprecedented time. 

“Since quickly pivoting our programs online in March, we’ve seen the thirst of people to connect with their culture, and with culture in general, and we hope that despite the physical distance, this program will offer SAFAR’s usual, unique space to appreciate, reflect upon, and celebrate the cinema and filmmakers of the Arab world.” 

The film and events program will be announced shortly alongside the festival’s new website. Information about the program can be found by emailing the organizers at www.safarfilmfestival.co.uk.