Mehwish Hayat, Lena Khan to be First Patrons of U.K. Muslim Film


Actor and campaigner Mehwish Hayat (“Ms. Marvel”) and writer-director Lena Khan (“Never Have I Ever”) have been revealed as the first patrons for charity U.K. Muslim Film (UKMF).

UKMF works to change perspectives through championing underrepresented talent and voices, both on-screen and behind the camera and also advises the entertainment industry on how to authentically represent Muslims on-screen.

Hayat, whose hit films in Pakistan include “Actor in Law,” “Punjab Nahi Jaungi,” “Load Wedding” and “Chhalawa,” has widely spoken out about human rights abuses on the global stage and has been particularly vocal about the representation of Muslims in mainstream media.

Hayat said: “Representation of Muslims on-screen is something that I have been tirelessly working to highlight for the past few years. Misrepresentation has done untold damage to us and I sincerely believe has fuelled the rise of Islamophobia. With UKMF, I look forward to working with the industry to make sure that the way that we are portrayed on-screen, if not positive, is at least a lot fairer.”

“It is equally incumbent on us as Muslims to be telling our own stories. I am excited that UKMF will be supporting emerging Muslim talent and helping them get their work to larger audiences,” Hayat added.

UKMF will be hosting a pop-up cinema event on Aug. 13 at Edgbaston to celebrate the work of Khan, director of Disney original film “Flora & Ulysses.”

Khan said: “Representation in films and television literally changes our cultural landscape — for better or worse. It impacts policy, how we see people, how we operate with each other. And it’s not that hard to do. I hope we can continue to expand the scope and quality of how our fellow humans are seen on screen, and enjoy the ride and the stories along the way.”

Sajid Varda, who worked on and acted in Khan’s “The Tiger Hunter,” established UKMF and the upcoming first Muslim International Film Festival to champion creative endeavors by Muslims from around the world.

Varda said: “We have a great deal of work ahead of us to change perceptions within the media and in particular the screen industries. With the addition of Mehwish and Lena to the team we are incredibly hopeful that together we can change the script.”

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Originally published at variety.com

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