Near the Jugular

Riz Ahmed and Bassam Tariq look at their cinematic influences, including the films that inspired their new feature Mogul Mowgli.

The best film experiences provoke wordless reactions. They hit you so close to your core that you have no choice but submit to its truth. There is strong authorship but also a desire to connect with an audience. Which in a way might seem contradictory, but I don’t believe so. When we are truest to ourselves, the more specific and vulnerable we are, the stronger we can connect with those around us. Perhaps this comes from my Islamic understanding of creativity and its inseparable connection to Divinity; as God is described by many attributes in Islam, the one that I seem to keep returning to is Al-Khaliq, The Unprecedented Creator. Which means that every moment and every creation in existence is unprecedented; it has never existed before the way it has in front of us as it does now, and it will never again exist as such. Like that, so are we. Each one of us is a unique manifestation of God’s Divine Attributes and in celebrating our uniqueness we are affirming an Unspeakable Beauty.

These films hit Riz and me close to our jugular veins. They push us to be better, more compassionate filmmakers. These films stretch the possibilities of filmmaking and even in their supposed ‘vulgarity’ there is a submission to Divinity that perhaps the filmmakers themselves would scoff at - but that’s the reality that I see. Whether you believe or do not, it shouldn’t matter. The best fillms are like the best of the Sufis; they allow space for us all to exist: heretics, agnostics and believers of all shapes. I pray these films can equally expand your heart and karate chop you near the jugular.

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Mogul MowgliMogul Mowgli

Drama202089 minsDirector: Bassam Tariq

Bassam Tariq’s visceral directorial debut, co-written with Riz Ahmed, finds a British-Pakistani rapper’s life spiralling out of control when, on the cusp of success, he succumbs to a debilitating illness.

"What we’re trying to do with this film is articulate our own language cinematically ... trying to take the DNA strands of all these different traditions and try to bind them into something that has its own voice." - RIz.

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La HaineLa Haine

Drama199598 minsDirector: Mathieu Kassovitz

Mathieu Kassovitz’s landmark mid-90s drama throws a cinematic Molotov cocktail at structural racism, police brutality and media manipulation.

"The anxiety and wonderful aimlessness of youth. Captured with an energy unseen before. " - Bassam & Riz.

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Tokyo StoryTokyo Story

Drama1953136 minsDirector: Yasujirō Ozu

A constant fixture in critics' polls, Yasujiro Ozu's most enduring masterpiece is a beautifully nuanced exploration of filial duty, expectation and regret.

"The collision of modern capitalism and traditional family systems. Ozu argues that both can’t exist. Is he right?" - Bassam & Riz.

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Drama200796 minsDirector: Lance Hammer

Three haunted souls are thrust into co-existence in this searing debut work from Lance Hammer, a double prize winner at the Sundance Film Festival.

"Remarkable. Small but epic. A papercut to your heart." - Bassam & Riz.

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Thriller2009129 minsDirector: Bong Joon-ho

Cult Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s (The Host, Snowpiercer) fourth feature is a startlingly original and thrilling account of the limits of maternal devotion.

"Thriller with strong Korean Mom vibes. It’ll put a smile and make you unsettled at the same time. Distinct. One of the best opening scenes to a film." - Bassam & Riz.

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