Inaugural Muslim International Film Festival coming to London

A film festival dedicated to showcasing global talent and diverse voices from the Muslim community is coming to London for the very first time.

The inaugural Muslim International Film Festival (MIFF) will run from 30 May to 2 June 2024 at the Odeon West End in Leicester Square with the aim of championing Muslim filmmakers and spotlighting Muslim stories and experiences.

The programme launch on 16 April revealed eight feature-length films, several of which have previously screened at prestigious film festivals like the Cannes International Film Festival, as well as two shorts programmes entitled A Reckoning Of Hearts and Echoes of Resistance.

At the launch, Festival Director and former Byker Grove actor Sajid Varda said: “Anything to do with Muslims or Islam has never had, if we’re being honest, a positive connotation.

“Having this festival is about reclaiming our identity, making sure we can tell our stories through our own lens.

“These are stories that pack a punch, that resonate deep within, and remind us that there’s more that unites us than divides us.”

Moroccan filmmaker Kamal Lazraq’s debut feature Hounds will open the festival, with its tale of a father-son duo trying to navigate Casablanca’s criminal underbelly described by Festival Coordinator Raheela Suleman as: “A riveting portrayal of faith, morality and survival that navigates complex, ethical choices in an underworld rife with temptation and moral ambiguity.”

The closing night film is In Camera, a pointed satire of the arts industry in Britain told through the experiences of a young Asian actor.

Directed by Naqqash Khalid, the film premiered at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in 2023 and the London screening will be followed by a Q&A with Khalid.

Elsewhere, Oscar-winner Riz Ahmed will feature in the shorts programme, starring in Dammi, a film about a man trying to connect with his estranged father from director Yann Demange, who will helm Marvel Studios’ forthcoming Blade reboot.

OSCAR WINNER: Riz Ahmed at the San Diego Comic Con in 2018 (Credit: Gage Skidmore)

Goodbye Julia, from Sudanese director Mohamed Kordofani, will play at the festival and is notable for being the first film from Sudan to screen at Cannes.

The first Jordanian film to play at Cannes, Amjad Al Rasheed’s debut feature Inshallah A Boy, will also feature.

In addition, the festival will run a series of panels and networking events in collaboration with the likes of the BBC and BFI Inclusion.

Christina Papasotiriou, Festival Programmer for MIFF, said: “We have put this programme together with a lot of love.

“I really want to thank Sajid [Varda] for trusting me with this and allowing me to work with him on the very first MIFF.

“I’m not Muslim but I have had the privilege of being able to come closer to a faith that I didn’t know enough about.

“It has been illuminating and has opened my eyes to see a community in a new, loving light. It has been truly wonderful.”

More information about the festival and how to book tickets can be found here.

Riz Ahmed image credit: Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons)

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