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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - JEDDAH: The inspiring true story of Saudi father Mohammed Al-Mukhalis Al-Yami, who devoted his life to saving his son who suffers from terminal lung disease and requires a transplant, has caught Hollywood’s attention and will likely be adapted into a documentary and scripted featured film.
Al-Yami has been living in the US since 2020, waiting for a life-saving lung transplant for his son, Fahad.
The former Aramco employee’s story began when he decided to leave his home in Saudi Arabia to save his son, who suffers from a congenital heart and lung deformity.
Inspired by his son’s struggle against the disease, the 42-year-old discovered a talent he never knew he had.
With his wife and two older sons back in the Kingdom, Al-Yami would walk Fahad to the hospital daily for treatment, carrying his son’s oxygen cylinder on his shoulder. He felt alone at the time and was looking for a distraction.
One day, as he returned home from the hospital, Al-Yami happened upon the Brazilian jiu-jitsu studio, Paradigm Gym, and decided to start training. After a few months, he had lost over 24 kg.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a martial art and combat sport based on ground fighting and submission holds. It requires focus and maneuvers to beat one’s opponent, something that Al-Yami found came easily to him.
Al-Yami gained confidence after winning local competitions and had a breakout performance in the World IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championship 2021 at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas.
Later, he grabbed the gold medal at the 2022 World Master International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation Championship held in Las Vegas, which he dedicated to his son, Fahad.
A video of him telling his son to “not give up” went viral on social media in the Kingdom and the US after he won the world championship in Las Vegas.
Last year, the Saudi jiu-jitsu national team called on Al-Yami to represent his country in the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship. He fought hard to win the gold medal, which his mother presented to him.
Speaking to Arab News from Houston, Texas, Al-Yami said that his story has captured Hollywood’s attention and he has been receiving many offers: “After personally being congratulated by Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, and the US Embassy in Riyadh for winning the World Master Championship in Las Vegas, I noticed many Americans started to write about my story on various platforms, which captured the attention of producers in Hollywood. Since then, I started to receive many offers.”
He continued: “A Hollywood company told me, ‘Your story is powerful, moving and inspirational … the whole world should know about it.’”
The project would consist of two phases — a documentary and a scripted feature film — and be co-produced by an American company and a Saudi one.
In the documentary, titled “Fight for Breath,” Al-Yami is expected to be played by a celebrity and produced by Elyes Baccar, an award-winning international director and screenwriter of feature films, documentaries, series and TV formats.
“As for the scripted feature film, which holds the same title, the leading role in the cast could go to actor Rami Malik; or the Egyptian-born Canadian actor Mena Massoud; or Marwan Kanzari, a Dutch actor; or British Pakistani actor, Ahmed Riz. It is to be directed by Teryn Fogel, who has been a producer on numerous scripted and documentary projects in film and television,” added Al-Yami.
He said that an official agreement has not yet been reached, but he is looking forward to seeing his life documented and inspiring others.
“During my negotiations with these companies, my main concern was to get the truth out as it is and not to distort the image of the Kingdom,” Al-Yami said.
“I feel proud and privileged to have my life’s story and journey shared in a movie to show that, at the end of the day, I am just a normal person trying to live my dream and do my best and to showcase how important my family is.”
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