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Hany Abu-Assad set to helm the adaptation of indie horror comic Infidel

Tristar's film adaptation of the indie horror comic limited-series INFIDEL has found its director in THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US helmer Hany Abu-Assad. Created by Pornsak Pichetshote, former editor of DC Entertainment’s Vertigo imprint, and illustrated by Aaron Campbell, INFIDEL is a terrifying haunted house story that follows an American Muslim woman, Aisha, and her multiracial neighbors who move into a building plagued by entities that feed off xenophobia.

Tristar snagged the rights to INFIDEL back in May, following the release of the title's second issue. Producing the project alongside Anonymous Content are Academy Award-winner Michael Sugar and Ashley Zalta of Sugar 23. Meanwhile, Juliet Snowden and Stiles white will be penning the script.

Shortly after the film was announced, Pichetshote and Campbell and the title's colorist/editor, Jose Villarrubia, sat down with Heat Vision to discuss how their story deals directly with race relations in a modern-day setting. Of course, each creator was more than eager to lend their voices to the conversation:

"So many nerves. All the nerves," says Pichetshote. "There were two central conceits that Infidel plays off of. As you noticed, it very consciously wants to explore the cultural moment we’re in right now. We’re coming at a time where America as a culture wants to talk about issues of race and gender that it previous hasn’t, and one of the things we’re quickly finding as a society is that we haven’t developed the vocabulary to talk about those issues, because we haven’t been encouraged to talk about it. I know I certainly hold my breath when people I admire talk about an experience outside their race and gender now, because I’ve gotten more used to people getting it wrong than getting it right.

So that, in my opinion, is the world outside my window, where things like racism and xenophobia unequivocally exist, and while we can all agree it’s insidious, we can’t necessarily agree with what it looks like. And if we can’t agree on that, how do we fight it? So, the idea with Infidel was to acknowledge that world and plop something as familiar as a haunted house story on top of it, and see how it makes something familiar different.

Then, I wanted a story that looked like the world outside my window. That looked like me and my closest friends. A group of people of different ethnicities and faiths where our life decisions are informed by our backgrounds and not incidental to them. But to tell a story that seeks to cover a multitude of ethnic perspectives while striving to be accurate to them and not exploitative is a terrifying task. Especially on a topic that’s steeped with so much uncertainty and confusion. So yeah, every aspect of writing this book scares me."

Cambell then told the outlet:

"I definitely feel that this has gone unexplored, especially in the ghost genre.  Ghost stories have always existed as a proxy for our own existential fears about life and all its unknowable qualities. Ghosts themselves are irrational actors. They are the residue of a broken or tormented life and so life itself become the focus of their rage. This is, in essence, how bigotry and xenophobia find their genesis. A person struggles with life and looks outward for the source. They do not have the capability or desire to take ownership over their own failures and shortcomings and so they point the finger where it is easiest — the other. The ghost is the perfect template for these ideas. Frankly, I’m astonished it’s never been done before."

Villarrubia then got involved in the conversation by sharing his perspective with regard to how the series struck him as a potentially impactful read, as well as an exploration of race relations wrapped tightly in a chilling and timely five-part story:

"Pornsak had the idea of Infidel for years. When he decided to turn it into a comics mini-series, to later be collected as a graphic novel, he contacted me and told me all about it. I thought it sounded terribly exciting. Pornsak had been my editor at Vertigo for some of my favorite projects: Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth, Crossing Midnight and the graphic novel Aaron and Ahmed, A Love Story, which dealt with the causes of terrorism. We had become good friends and I told him that I would love the opportunity to be an editor, particularly for a very interesting project like Infidel. Pornsak agreed and we got to work right away, discussing the plot, characters, title of the series, etc…

One major point that Pornsak entrusted me was to find the right artists for the series. After much consideration, I proposed Aaron, whom I have known for a couple decades, and whose style I felt would be ideal for the series. And Pornsak suggested Jeff Powell to be our designer, letterer and de facto production manager. After that the team was set and we all got to work together."

Truth be told, I'm a big fan of INFIDEL. In a year packed to the nines with stellar horror comic book offerings, titles like Infidel, Gideon Falls, Black Magick, Harrow County, and The Unsound each served as a unique experience for the genre. Infidel is available in trade right now, wherever comic books are sold. Be sure to pick up and copy so that you can get in on the ground floor of this exciting adaptation

Source: Variety

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