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.
Bassam Tariq/Riz Ahmed
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.
Drama2014111 minsDirector: Alonso Ruizpalacios
A teenager is banished to his brother in Mexico City, from where a road trip is planned to track down an elusive musician.
"Best first film ever made. Period. I found this film as in-flight entertainment (!) and was in tears. I felt the film was made just for me." - Bassam
Drama201572 minsDirector: Anna Rose Holmer
Toni, an eleven year-old tomboy, finds a new purpose when an epidemic of seizures strikes her dance class, in this riveting and psychological character portrait from filmmaker Anna Rose Holmer.
"Dance. Movement. Coming of age. A testament to the importance of strong female authorship. This is the kind of work is made when women are given control of writing, directing, producing and editing." - Bassam & Riz.
Gangster1990145 minsDirector: Martin Scorsese
Scorsese’s dazzling depiction of organised crime from the 50s to late 70s contains some of his most memorably stylish set-pieces.
"The swagger. The banter. Oh the wonderful banter." - Bassam & Riz.
Drama201482 minsDirector: Pawel Pawlikowski
The Best Film winner at the 2013 BFI London Film Festival is an exquisitely shot, moving drama about a Polish nun exploring her family past, from UK-based director Pawel Pawlikowski.
"A gorgeous visual journey that leads us unapologetically to God." -
Bassam & Riz.
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.