By Liz Lopez

Rating: B+

Noor & Layla is a 13-minute short that shows how the relationship developed between two Muslim women but it is told in reverse chronological order from what may be the end (as the film begins). Written and directed by filmmaker Fawzia Mirza (Signature Move), starring actors Nicole Nwokolo (as Noor) and Sahar B. Agustin-Maleki (as Layla), the love story represents a relationship not often seen cinematically about women of color. The audience does not have to be Muslim or of an ethnic background to find this story intriguing, especially when not told in a formulaic manner.

Both actors have delivered excellent performances of persons who have distinct personalities and yet fall in love. The audience is witness to various moments between them, back to when they met. The chemistry is there between the actors that gives an authenticity to Noor and Layla that is appealing and keeps the audience engaged. The film is accompanied by the Muslim call to prayer as their story unfolds.

This film is having a good run in the festival circuit this summer after its release in Canada in the spring of this year. It has screened at two other festivals this August (aside from the Bentonville Film Festival) and is currently screening at the Austin, Texas PRISM 34 aGLIFF (All Genders, Lifestyles, and Identities Film Festival) through this weekend. For more information, visit www.agliff.org/schedule

Source: Bentonville Film Festival and aGLIFF

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