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London: New film festival aims to 'reclaim, celebrate' Muslim identity

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London: New film festival aims to reclaim, celebrate Muslim identity
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Aiming to delve into Muslim experiences through film, a fresh film festival is set to debut in the UK. The inaugural Muslim International Film Festival will kick off on May 30 in London’s Leicester Square.

Over four days, the festival will present narratives from global Muslim filmmakers and films inspired by Muslim culture and faith.

According to MIFF director Sajid Varda, "The idea behind the festival is about reclaiming our identity and celebrating it."

He added, "For the longest time, being Muslim has felt like something we can’t be proud of."

"We’ve had to hide our identity, and the narrative around our faith and identities has often been controlled by others.

We want to give them a glimpse into our lives and lived experiences, while also showcasing the cinematic brilliance of our creative community and its contributions to cinema."

The festival will open with the London premiere of "Hounds" ("Les Meutes") by Moroccan director Kamal Lazraq. The film portrays the story of a father and son in Casablanca’s suburbs involved in petty crimes for a local mob until a kidnapping goes awry.

Highlighting critically acclaimed films set in various countries, the festival also promises Q&A sessions, panels and networking events in collaboration with the British Film Commission, Netflix and the BBC.

Varda said, "We wanted to ensure that the films align with our faith and ethos, avoiding gratuitous violence, nudity, and overtly sexual themes. This makes the content accessible to all, not just Muslims, but also people of other faiths and beliefs who might be sensitive to these issues."

Regarding accessibility, Varda noted, "Our ticket costs are much lower compared to other festivals. We’ve also given out many tickets at no cost to various organizations, and offered discounts to students and those facing financial hardship".

Inputs from: Arab News

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