Our picks from London’s first Muslim International Film Festival

Riz Ahmed and Nabhaan Rizwaan feature in the inaugural event celebrating actors and film-makers from the UK, Morocco, Turkey and beyond

Hyphen's picks from London’s first Muslim International Film Festival
German Iranian director Behrooz Karamizade’s feature film debut, Empty Nets. Photo courtesy of MIFF

The inaugural edition of the Muslim International Film Festival (MIFF) is coming to London this month.

Running from 30 May to 2 June at the Odeon Luxe West End cinema in Leicester Square, the four-day festival will show both premieres and award-winning features. Organisers said MIFF will celebrate the diversity of the Muslim community and the medium of film at a time of “polarised public opinion and a prevalence of negative portrayals of Muslims”.

The programme spotlights emerging and established film-makers from across the world, with eight full-length feature films and two programmes of shorts, set in the UK, Morocco, Turkey, Tunisia, Jordan, Iran and Sudan. Highlights include Dammi, a short film starring Riz Ahmed, and In Camera, a British feature debut directed by Naqqash Khalid. The event is being supported by UK Muslim Film, a charity that aims to champion underrepresented talent in the industry. 

The festival will also award films and film-makers in categories including Best Feature, Best Short and Trailblazer. 

Festival director Sajid Varda said: “MIFF is not just a festival; it’s a vibrant celebration of cultures and stories from across the Muslim world.

“As we bring together the film industry and film-makers 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.”

Here are Hyphen’s top picks from the line-up.

German Iranian director Behrooz Karamizade’s feature film debut, Empty Nets.

Empty Nets

German Iranian film-maker Behrooz Karamizade makes his feature film debut with Empty Nets, a story about a young Iranian man, Amir (played by Hamid Reza Abbasi), who hopes to marry his girlfriend Narges (Sadaf Asgari). In a bid to win over Narges’ upper-class family and pay her dowry, Amir accepts work at a local fishery, but is soon drawn into the dangerous black market of caviar smuggling. The film won the Young German Cinema Production award at the 2023 Munich Film Festival, as well as the Global Visions award at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 2024.

The festival opens with Hounds, Moroccan film-maker Kamal Lazraq’s Cannes 2023 Un Certain Regard Jury Prize winner.


MIFF opens on 30 May with the London premiere of Hounds, directed by Moroccan film-maker Kamal Lazraq. Set in Casablanca, the film portrays an impoverished father, Hassan (Abdellatif Masstouri), and his son, Issam (Ayoub Elaid), who make a living by carrying out petty crimes for local gangsters. One evening, they are tasked with kidnapping a mob rival, but when he accidentally dies in their car they must find a way to dispose of his body. Hounds was the recipient of the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival.

Hyphen's picks from London’s first Muslim International Film Festival
Turkish film-maker Selman Nacar’s Hesitation Wound has its London premiere at MIFF. Photo courtesy of MIFF

Hesitation Wound

Directed by Turkish film-maker Selman Nacar, Hesitation Wound follows criminal lawyer Canan (played by Turkish actress Tülin Özen), who divides her time between the courthouse during the day and the hospital at night, where her mother is on life support. Hesitation Wound won the Feature Film Competition prize at Zurich Film Festival in 2023, and was also nominated for Venice Film Festival’s Orizzonti Award for Best Film. The film will make its London premiere at MIFF on 31 May.

Amjad Al Rasheed’s Inshallah A Boy was the first Jordanian film to be shown at Cannes. 

Inshallah A Boy

Inshallah A Boy, directed by Amjad Al Rasheed, is the first Jordanian film to show at the Cannes Film Festival, where it premiered in 2023 and won two awards. It tells the story of Nawal, a widow, who pretends to be pregnant with a son in an effort to protect herself and her daughter from Jordan’s patriarchal inheritance laws.

Behind the Mountains, directed by Mohamed Ben Attia, is set in Tunisia.

Behind The Mountains

Behind the Mountains is a supernatural drama that follows the story of Rafik, played by Majd Mastoura, who has just completed four years in a Tunisian prison after a violent outburst at his former workplace. Rafik, who suffers from mental health issues, is convinced that he can fly, and in an attempt to prove this to his family, kidnaps his son and drives up to the mountains to demonstrate his unique superpower. The film, which was nominated for Best Film at the Venice Horizons Award in 2023, is directed by Mohamed Ben Attia.

Hyphen's picks from London’s first Muslim International Film Festival
In Camera, by Manchester-based director Naqqash Khalid, explores racism and class in the film industry. Photo courtesy of MIFF

In Camera

The festival will close with a special pre-release screening of In Camera by Manchester-based director Naqqash Khalid. Winner of the Best First Feature prize at the Dinard British Film Festival 2023, In Camera explores racism and class in the film industry through the experience of a young actor named Aden (Nabhaan Rizwaan). Deflated by a cycle of humiliating auditions and rejections, Aden agrees to act as the dead son of a bereaved woman for a therapy project. The film will be released in UK and Ireland cinemas on 13 September.

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