DIFF 2016 Movie Preview: Layla M.

Category: Drama | Writer: Ali Amad | Published on 12/11/2016

Layla M.:

Playing: Sunday, Dec. 11, 10 P.M.

              Wednesday, Dec. 14, 5:45 P.M.

The depiction of Islam in film has always been a controversial subject, particularly when there’s a tendency to exaggerate, blur the truth or downright lie. Muslim characters, especially in Hollywood, are often terrorists or cannon fodder for the Schwarzenegger action heroes of the world.

And now that we live in a time where Islamophobia has become a frightfully real phenomenon, where Western countries are voting for racist nationalist parties and leaders, this untruthful treatment is particularly troubling.

Enter Layla M., which is directed and made in the Netherlands, a country with a troubling recent track record on how it treats its Muslim population of approximately 5%. What makes this film interesting and unique, is it explores the radicalization of a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim teenager, charting her journey from her search for identity and purpose, to her transformation into a jihadist member of a terrorist cell.

Most of the media coverage that promotes Islamophobia neglects the roots and causes behind why a tiny minority of Muslims become radicalized, offering the easy solution. What Layla M. seeks to do is unravel the myriad of factors that lead to people of all ages, backgrounds and upbringings to go down that route.

The conclusion is one that reflects reality: there’s never one simple obvious answer, no matter how much extremists on both ends of the issue claim there is one. Layla M. will doubtlessly arouse a lot of praise and criticism, but this is why films like this need to made, and seen.



Image courtesy of: Required Viewing


Runtime: 98 minutes


Cast: Nora El Koussour, Ilias Addab

Director: Mijke de Jong

Screenplay: Mijke de Jong, Jan Eilander

Cinematography: Danny Elsen