Programme announced for 1st Muslim International Film Festival

The inaugural edition of the MUSLIM INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (MIFF) runs May 30th – June 2nd in London’s Leicester Square. Championing the narratives of international Muslim filmmakers and highlighting their compelling stories, MIFF is also a platform for productions inspired by Muslim culture and faith, embracing filmmakers of all backgrounds.

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. This first edition showcases the breadth of Muslim storytelling with premieres of acclaimed new features set throughout the world including the UK, Morocco, Turkey, Tunisia, Jordan, and Sudan.

MIFF is supported by UK Muslim Film (UKMF), a charity working to change perspectives by championing underrepresented talent and voices, both onscreen and behind the camera. UKMF recently worked as cultural consultants with C4’s comedy drama Screw, ITV’s Good Karma Hospital, C4’s Hollyoaks, and Columbia Pictures’ Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, ensuring that cultural and faith-based aspects of storylines are portrayed accurately.

Sajid Varda, Festival Director of the Muslim International Film Festival says: “We’re absolutely thrilled to bring this festival to London, where we’re on a mission to weave together cultures through the magic of cinema. MIFF is not just a festival; it’s a vibrant celebration of cultures and stories from across the Muslim world, providing a spotlight on talented emerging and seasoned filmmakers from all corners of the globe. As we bring together the film industry and filmmakers alike, our line-up features some of the most courageous and creative minds – each one bringing their A-game to the big screen. These are stories that pack a punch, that resonate deep within, and remind us that there’s more that unites us than divides us.


The 1st MIFF opens on May 30th with the London Premiere of HOUNDS / LES MEUTES (dir: Kamal Lazaraq, Morocco/France/Belgium). A multi-award winner including Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at Cannes, it portrays a father and son in the suburbs of Casablanca who get by on petty crimes for a local mob. When a kidnapping goes wrong, they must find a way to dispose of the body. Including a Q&A with the director. Hounds will be released in the UK by Curzon later this year.

The festival closes on June 2nd with a special pre-release screening of IN CAMERA (dir: Naqqash Khalid, UK). An award winner at Dinard and Thessaloniki film festivals, and nominated for two British Independent Film Awards, Naqqash Khalid’s feature debut stars Nabhaan Rizwan (winner of Royal Television Society’s Breakthrough Award for Informer) as a young actor caught in a cycle of nightmarish auditions and repeated rejections, who decides it’s time to take on a new role. Conic will release the film in UK and Ireland cinemas this summer.


Winner of Best International Feature Film at Zurich FF, and nominated for the Venice Horizons Award, the London Premiere of HESITATION WOUND (dir: Selman Nacar, Turkey/France/Romania) follows a criminal lawyer who must make a moral choice that will affect the lives of her ailing mother, a judge, and a murder suspect client whose defence is turning in his favour.

With accolades from numerous festivals, including winning Un Certain Regard Freedom Prize at Cannes, GOODBYE JULIA (dir: Mohamed Kordofani, Sudan/Sweden/Germany) sees a northern Sudanese former singer seek redemption for causing the death of a South Sudan man by hiring his oblivious widow as her maid, unaware that the country’s turmoil may find its way into her home and put her face-to-face with her sins.

Acclaimed supernatural drama BEHIND THE MOUNTAINS (dir: Mohamed Ben Attia, Tunisia/Belgium/France) sees a man who violently breaks free from his banal environment, evading society with its principles, codes and institutions.

A multi award-winner at festivals including Cannes and Red Sea International Film Festival INSHALLAH A BOY (dir: Amjad Al Rasheed, Jordan/France/Saudi Arabia/Qatar/Egypt) sees a widow pretend to be pregnant with a son to save her daughter and home from a relative exploiting Jordan’s patriarchal inheritance laws.

A hit at Venice and LFF, the debut feature from British Pakistani filmmaker Moin Hussain, SKY PEALS (dir: Moin Hussain, UK) is the story of a directionless, alienated, and lonely man who works nightshifts in a fast-food restaurant at a motorway service station. Upon hearing that his father has died, he goes in search of answers in this intriguing and eerie sci-fi film. Includes a Q&A with lead actor Faraz Ayub.


The film programme will be supplemented by panels and networking events in collaboration with BFI Inclusion, the BBC, and more tbc.


There’ll be a special presentation of DAMMI (dir: Yann Demange, France), a short film by French-Algerian director Yann Demange (director of Marvel Studios forthcoming Blade) starring Riz Ahmed as a man who travels back to Paris to reconnect with his estranged father, where he’s forced to face his fears and guilt while also reclaiming his lost Arab identity.

Shorts programme #1 ECHOES OF RESISTANCE includes the London Premiere of BAFTA nominated short YELLOW (dir: Elham Elhas, UK/Afghanistan) which sees a woman in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan buy her first full-body veil and face an uncertain future. SXSW Special Jury Award winning SUDDENLY TV (dir: Roopa Gogineni, Sudan/Qatar) documents a group of young revolutionaries who create an imaginary television station during the protests in Sudan following the fall of President Omar al-Bashir. AN ORANGE FROM JAFFA (dir: Mohammed Almughanni, France/Palestine) follows a young Palestinian desperately looking for a taxi to take him through an Israeli checkpoint. THINGS UNHEARD OF (dir: Ramazan Kılıç, Turkey) sees a little Kurdish girl try to put a smile back on her grandmother’s face after the disappearance of her television. Informed by interviews with first-generation migrants living in London and beyond, documentary short I CARRY IT WITH ME EVERYWHERE (dir: Arwa Aburawa & Turab Shah, UK) weaves together the lives of multiple characters as they confront inherited ideas of belonging.

Shorts programme #2 A RECKONING OF HEARTS includes the London Premiere of Canadian Screen Awards and Toronto International Film Festival award-winning short SIMO (dir: Aziz Zoromba, Canada), the story of competitive brothers whose lives take a dangerous turn when one sneakily takes over his older brother’s online gaming channel. Starring BAFTA nominated and BIFA winning actress Kosar Ali, MUNA (dir: Warda Mohamed, UK) sees a British-Somali teen navigating a confusing mourning period for her grandfather who she never really knew. SEE YOU IN THE DARK (dir: Asena Nour, UK) follows a young female artist who’s hacked by an ominous troll. NOW AND THEN (dir: Harris Alvi, UK) tells of a Muslim woman who discovers her husband’s old videos of an ex-girlfriend. During a difficult visit to her single immigrant mother, Athena discovers that what she thought was age-related mental decline is in fact an inherited magical gift in THE CALL (dir: Riffy Ahmed, UK).


Festival films will screen in competition, with awards presented to Best Feature and Best Short. The jury includes Claudia Yusef (Head of Development at BBC Films), Neila Butt (Creative Diversity Lead, Nations and Regions at Channel 4), Leon Oteng (Production Inclusion Manager at BFI Filmmaking Fund), Tas Brooker (filmmaker, When We Speak). More tbc.


As well as championing new and upcoming filmmakers and talent, MIFF celebrates and honours individuals who have already made innovative contributions to the film industry. MIFF will present its inaugural Trailblazer Award during this year’s festival – details of the very special first recipient will be announced in May.