Both director Mijke de Jong and actress Nora El Koussour have received an Angela Award last Sunday night, during the closing night of Subtitle European Film Festival. The festival is hosted yearly in Kilkenny, Ireland.
This is the second time for Nora to receive an award for her performance in LAYLA M. During the Philadelphia Film Festival, she was awarded with the special jury prize ‘Honorable Mention for Outstanding Performance’.
Layla is an 18-year old girl, born and raised in Amsterdam. Layla is smart, witty and stubborn – and of Moroccan background. In the times of constant terrorist threat, she struggles with the increasing suspicion towards girls with headscarves and boys with beards that se witnesses every day. While her frustration grows, her faith intensifies. Eventually, she joins a group of Muslims who fight for their practice of Islam. Layla posts films online depicting the horrors in Syria and Gaza and makes political flyers. And she flirts with the charismatic Abdel. When her peaceful brother and she are arrested by the police, Layla, feeling hurt and isolated in her anger, more and more in conflict with her parents, is left with only one option: to leave home. She chooses marriage, with Abdel. After their wedding, Layla and Abdel roam the country together, perform ‘missionary work’, and raise money for the good cause. But after they narrowly escape a raid by the Belgian police on a group of young jihadists, they have to flee, to the Middle East. Layla encounters a world that nurtures her ideas initially, but finally confronts her with an impossible choice.
LAYLA M. is ninth feature film by Mijke de Jong, written by Jan Eilander in cooperation with the director. De Jong’s films have won with numerous awards, such as a Golden Calf for Joy (2010), Tussenstand (2007) and in 1997 for the five actresses of Broos.
The film is a production of Topkapi Films, in coproduction with NTR, Menuet (Belgium, known for a.o. Belgica and The Broken Circle Breakdown), Chromosom (Germany, known for a.o. Oh Boy) and Schiwago Film (Germany).