UK’s first major Muslim film festival announces lineup

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The UK’s first major film festival dedicated to Muslim cinema announced its inaugural lineup on Tuesday, with a slew of award-winning films featuring the likes of Riz Ahmed and Informer’s Nabhaan Rizwan.

Ahmed, winner of an Oscar for best live action short film, will appear in Dammi, a short film directed by Yann Demange, the French film-maker best known for Top Boy and Northern Ireland-set drama ’71. Ahmed co-stars with Isabelle Adjani in a story about a man confronting his French and Algerian heritage on a trip to Paris. Rizwan plays the lead in In Camera, a British feature directed by Naqqash Khalid that screened at the London film festival, as an actor struggling to make a career in the film industry in the face of repeated rejections.

Other programme highlights include Hounds, a Casblanca-set crime yarn from Moroccan-born writer-director Kamal Lazraq, which will open the festival after winning a prize in the Un Certain Regard selection at Cannes; multi-award-winning Jordanian film Inshallah a Boy, about a widow (Mouna Hawa) pretending to be pregnant with a son to fend off legal problems; and another Cannes prize-winner, Sudanese director Mohamed Kordofani’s Goodbye Julia, set during the pre-separation period, about a woman from the north and her maid, who is from the south.

In a statement, the festival said: “At a time of polarised public opinion and a prevalence of negative portrayals of Muslims in the mainstream media, MIFF has arrived on the international film festival circuit with a mission to celebrate and amplify the diverse voices that explore the rich tapestry of Muslim experiences via the medium of film.”

Festival director Sajid Varda added: “The festival is … a vibrant celebration of cultures and stories from across the Muslim world, providing a spotlight on talented emerging and seasoned film-makers from all corners of the globe.”

The Muslim international film festival runs from 30 May to 2 June at the Odeon West End in London.


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