Meet the Director of the Muslim International Film Festival

Meet the Director of the Muslim International Film Festival



Sajid Varda on screenings, stereotypes and stars. 

Britain is breaking cinematic ground with its first Muslim International Film Festival. Running from 30 May to 2 June, the event takes place at Odeon Luxe West End, Leicester Square. The line-up showcases films from Britain, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey and Sudan, and films from actors ranging from Riz Ahmed to Nabhaan Rizwan. The Festival Director, Sajid Varda, shares the films and famous faces. 

Tell us about the inspiration behind the festival.

The Muslim International Film Festival was inspired by the need to reclaim and celebrate our identity. It's a vibrant celebration of cultures and stories from across the Muslim world, an invitation to others to experience our stories, and understand our reality, on our own terms, through our own lens. We want to place a spotlight on talented emerging and seasoned filmmakers from all corners of the globe, bringing together the film industry and filmmakers.

Who is the festival aimed at? 

The festival is for all. Whether you are a film enthusiast interested in exploring diverse perspectives, a filmmaker wanting to learn more from industry leaders or simply someone interested in learning more about the industry we encourage you to come along and take advantage of the industry panels and networking opportunities. People attend by getting their tickets online.

Tell us about Muslim stereotypes, and how the festival challenges them.

Muslims are often stereotyped in film as one-dimensional characters, such as terrorists or oppressed individuals. 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.

Tell us about the festival highlights.

Highlights of the festival include a special award for the filmmaker Asif Kapadia, screenings of features and two short film programmes, panel discussions, and networking with renowned filmmakers as well as industry experts. Plus, comprehensive and engaging experience for the filmmaking community.

Will there be any celebrities attending the event? 

Yes, several celebrities will be attending, including the director Asif Kapadia who will be receiving MIFF's first Trailblazer Award. We have a special message from director Yann Mounir Demange and others. 

How do you imagine the festival will grow in the future?

We envision the festival growing to include more international submissions, expanding its reach and impact while continuing to create a much richer understanding and appreciation of Muslim culture and faith through film. We are incredibly grateful for the fantastic support we've received from industry leaders such as the BFI, Film 4, Channel 4, BBC Writers Room, and many others. We look forward to continuing our collaborative efforts and expanding our work together.

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