'Profile' Trailer: 'Wanted' Director Timur Bekmambetov Mines Real Dangers for Screenlife Thriller
Inspired by the 2015 nonfiction book In the Skin of a Jihadist, Profile takes the real story of ISIS recruitment to the screen. To the Screenlife format, specifically — the computer-screen “genre” that has been gaining recent popularity in films like Unfriended and Searching. Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov, who produced both of those films, takes the helm of his own Screenlife film with the thriller Profile, which follows an undercover British journalist who attempts to expose a terrorist recruiter through social media, and finds herself in over her head.
Kazakh-Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov completed Profile all the way back in 2018, debuting the thriller at the Berlin International Film Festival. But COVID delays and other setbacks means Profile is only now getting released in theaters.
“While the pandemic has shifted our entire lives online, with school gone remote, work meetings replaced by videocalls, and happy hours virtual, it has also raised numerous questions about our digital privacy, data protection, and cybersecurity. That makes this the best time to watch a movie like Profile for those who have spent months in lockdown with their computer screens and who can relate to the paranoia and riskiness driven by the Internet and online technologies in a time when everyone from the terrorists to your government wants a piece of your digital exposure,” Bekmambetov said in a note to the press.
Written by Britt Poulton (Them That Follow), Bekmambetov, and Olga Kharina, Profile stars Valene Kane (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as a British journalist who goes undercover to attempt to bait and expose a terrorist recruiter (Shazad Latif, Star Trek: Discovery) through social media. But she finds herself lured in by his charm and flirts dangerously with becoming a militant extremist herself. The film is told exclusively through computer screens, a format that has been dubbed “Screenlife,” which Bekmambetov has been an ardent supporter of, producing films like Unfriended and Searching.
It’s unclear whether this will be as much of a success that Searching was, which was anchored by a phenomenal performance by John Cho, but the real-life story that inspired it is fascinating. French journalist Anna Érelle’s book In the Skin of a Jihadist, which tells of her investigation into the recruitment of young women by ISIS, became a bestseller, but Érelle now lives with round-the-clock police protection and has changed her name.
Here is the synopsis for Profile:
Profile releases in theaters on May 14, 2021.
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