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Moustapha Akkad 1930-2005
 


Country : Aleppo, Syria
Profession : Film/TV Producer
Date of birth : 1930-07-01
Date of death : 2005-11-10
Cause of Death : Murder

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Moustapha Akkad (Arabic: مصطفى العقاد‎) (July 1, 1930 – November 11, 2005) was a Syrian American film producer and director, best known for producing the series of Halloween films and directing Mohammad, Messenger of God and Lion of the Desert. He was killed in 2005 in Amman, Jordan by an Al-Qaeda in Iraq suicide bomber.

Early life and career

Akkad was born in Aleppo, Syria. In 1935, his father, then a customs officer, gave him $200 and a copy of the Quran before he left for the United States to study film direction and production at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Akkad spent a further three years studying for a Master's degree at the University of Southern California (USC), where he met the legendary director Sam Peckinpah. Peckinpah became Akkad's mentor in Hollywood and hired him as a consultant for a film about the Algerian revolution that never made it to the big screen, but he continued to encourage him until he found a job as a producer at CBS.

In 1976, he produced and directed Mohammad, Messenger of God (released as The Message in 1977 in the United States), starring Anthony Quinn and Irene Papas. Akkad faced resistance from Hollywood to make the film in Morocco, the Sahara between Mauritania and Morocco.

While creating Muhammad, Messenger of God, he consulted Islamic clerics and tried to be respectful toward Islam and its views on portraying Muhammad. He saw the film as a way to bridge the gap between the Western and Islamic world, stating in a 1976 interview:

I did the film because it is a personal thing for me. Besides its production values as a film, it has its story, its intrigue, its drama. Beside all this I think there was something personal, being Muslim myself who lived in the west I felt that it was my obligation my duty to tell the truth about Islam. It is a religion that has a 700 million following, yet it's so little known about it which surprised me. I thought I should tell the story that will bring this bridge, this gap to the west.

In 1978, he helped make low-budget film history when he produced Halloween. Akkad became best known for his key involvement in the first eight Halloween movies, as an executive producer (the only producer to participate in all of these films). The series was highly profitable, although it was only the first film that became iconic.

In 1980 he directed Lion of the Desert, in which Quinn and Irene Papas were joined by Oliver Reed, Rod Steiger, and John Gielgud. It was about the real-life Bedouin leader Omar Mukhtar (Quinn), who fought Benito Mussolini's Italian troops in the deserts of Libya. The movie is now critically acclaimed, after initially receiving negative publicity in the West for being partially funded by Libya's Muammar al-Gaddafi, who invested $35 million in the movie. This negative publicity may have been the cause of its relatively poor performance at the box office.

In the United Kingdom Akkad once tried to buy Pinewood Studios from the Rank Organisation and also had a studio at Twickenham. At the time of his death, he was in the process of producing an $80 million movie featuring Sean Connery about Saladin and the Crusades, for which he already had the script, that would be filmed in Jordan. Speaking of the film, he said:

...Saladin exactly portrays Islam. Right now, Islam is portrayed as a terrorist religion. Because a few terrorists are Muslims, the whole religion has that image. If there ever was a religious war full of terror, it was the Crusades. But you can't blame Christianity because a few adventurers did this. That's my message.

Death

Akkad, and his 34-year-old daughter Rima Akkad Monla, were killed in the 2005 Amman bombings. They were both in the lobby at the Grand Hyatt when a suicide bomber sent by Al-Qaeda in Iraq detonated his device. His daughter died instantly, and Akkad died of his injuries two days later in a hospital. Akkad is survived by three sons.

Sons include Tarek (his oldest) and Malek, who helped produce most of the Halloween movies.

Filmography

Moustapha Akkad was the executive producer of the Halloween films and producer of the rest of the following films:

  • The Message (1976)
  • Halloween (1978)
  • Lion of the Desert (1981)
  • Halloween II (1981)
  • Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
  • Appointment with Fear (1985)
  • Free Ride (1986)
  • Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
  • Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
  • Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
  • Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
  • Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

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