If you enjoyed watching some positive Muslim representation on film in Ms Marvel, what can you watch after the credits of the last episode roll to an end? Alchemiya has you covered with a whole library of curated Muslim focused feature films, drama series, documentaries and animated films and cartoons.
Feature films with Muslim protagonists
One of the most refreshing things about Ms Marvel was seeing a Muslim playing the protagonist. In an industry that regularly villainises Muslims and casts them as the antagonists, it is unheard of to see everyday Muslims going about their everyday lives as a backdrop to the story of a Muslim superhero. After watching Ms Marvel you may want to watch some other series and feature films centring Muslims.
Alchemiya’s global cinema collection includes Journey to Mecca: In the Footsteps of Ibn Battuta, a sweeping biopic following the eventful and moving first journey of the great explorer as a pilgrim. Narrated by Ben Kingsley, the film was first shown in IMAX and other giant screen cinemas and received favourable reviews from Muslim and non-Muslim audiences alike. Read more about this must-see film here
Next try Born A King, an amazing true story about the diplomatic mission let by thirteen year old Prince Faisal of the House of Saud to London in 1919. Through the eyes of a young prince from the desert, this feature film captures the human experiences and emotions involved in high-level diplomacy and power games that have helped shape the modern world. Sensitively and artistically directed by Agustí Villaronga, Born A King boasts outstanding performances from the Saudi Arabian actors cast in the main roles, Abdullah Ali playing Prince Faisal, and Rawkan Binbella playing his father Emir Abdulaziz. The movie includes beautiful desert landscapes, atmospheric scenes in the British corridors of power and well-choreographed battle scenes, giving a cinematic and evocative depiction of the period. Read more about Born A King here.
Bilal – A New Breed of Hero is a ground-breaking and visually stunning animated feature film set in sixth century Arabia and based on the life of Bilal ibn Rabah, the companion of the Prophet ﷺ, showing the courageous struggle of a slave who is freed by his faith. Produced by Barajoun Entertainment studio in Dubai, which was formed specifically to make the film, Bilal: A New Breed of Hero is the first animated feature film of its kind coming out of the MENA region. The idea for the film came to producer Ayman Jamal after seeing his small son dressing up in costumes to imitate characters he admired. He noticed the absence of real-life heroes in the movie industry and set out to change this with an inspirational story about a hero from the heart of the Islamic tradition. Fittingly the movie begins with Bilal dressed in a cape and a mask role-playing heroics on a make-shift wooden horse. This daydreaming quickly turns into a nightmare though, as his village is ransacked, and he and his sister are captured as slaves. Read more about this inspiring and ground-breaking animated film here.
The Last Seljuk Hero is an action-filled historical feature film with epic battle scenes, a fearsome enemy and a moving storyline. The film vividly portrays the fall of the Seljuk Empire to the Mongols and the resistance of Emir Karatay and the residents of Konya to their rule. This compelling historical feature film has a potent mix of warriors, scholars and dervishes and heart-wrenching personal dilemmas. Read more about The Last Seljuk Hero here.
Other poignant films about Turkish history include Suveydâ, telling the story of a young boy and his grandfather as they grapple with enforced secularisation policies in Turkey at the beginning of the 20th century, and Free Man, which depicts the life and struggles of the influential figure Said Nursi, who in the aftermath of the fall of the Ottoman Empire was exiled, imprisoned, poisoned and starved for his peaceful resistance to a repressive programme of modernisation and secularisation, banning Arabic script, turbans and calling the adhan in Arabic.
Films and Documentaries about American Muslims
Although a superhero story, Ms Marvel shows the everyday reality of normal Muslims in America, with mosque politics and Eid and wedding celebrations in a diverse, well-meaning and friendly Muslim community that will feel very familiar to most Muslims. This is a reality that does not often appear in the media, which tends to sensationalise stories of terrorism and portray Muslims in a negative light. Beards, Bedrocks and Rednecks – 5 American Muslim Films is a review of some of Alchemiya’s documentaries and films from its Star Spangled Muslims collection. Another interesting US documentary to watch is Fashioning Faith – taking a behind the scenes look at the world of Islamic fashion and US-based clothing designers. Bilal’s Stand is an award-winning feature film about growing up in the hood in Detroit as a Black Muslim, surrounded by gangs, parties and drugs. This thought-provoking film, which is not suitable for young viewers, tells the real life story of an idealist growing up in a deprived neighbourhood who wants to create a better world. His biggest obstacle to making the jump towards a better life are those closest to him.
Films and Documentaries about Pakistan
In Ms Marvel Pakistani culture is highlighted in a way not usually seen on mainstream TV. If you enjoyed the rickshaw truck chase through the streets of Karachi and the representation of Pakistani culture, you will enjoy films from Alchemiya’s Pakistan Zindabad collection, including Rahm (Mercy), a Pakistani feature film based on William Shakespeare’s play, Measure for Measure. Set in Lahore, this award-winning tale of mercy, justice and compassion amplifies the contemporary importance of a Muslim spiritual and cultural message. Read about more Pakistani films and documentaries here. Other must-see films about Pakistan include Bend It Like Malika, about a young Pakistani footballer hailing from the Karakorum mountains on the outskirts of Islamabad, and Nanu and Me, a heart-warming short film about the transformational effect our support for each other can have, which centres on the story of Erum, left alone in the world at the age of twelve, and the sweet bond she develops with her grandfather who brings her up. Be sure not to miss Truckistan a three minute riotous celebration of highly decorated Pakistani trucks, or Edhi Means Love about Pakistan’s ‘Angel of Mercy’, Abdul Sattar Edhi who devoted his life to protecting Pakistan’s poor.
Muslim Drama Series
Drama series on Alchemiya include Muslim biopics and historical series that are educationally and spiritually uplifting, portraying important Islamic figures, such as Jalal ad-Din Rumi and Imam Ibn Hanbal, legendary political figures such as Harun al-Rashid, and scientifically important thinkers, such as Jaber Ibn Hayan and Ibn Sina. The Imam brings the eventful life of the influential Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal to the screen and is set in the streets and palaces of religiously and politically tumultuous 9th century Baghdad. The series was produced by Qatar TV which also co-produced the popular historical drama series Omar about the life of Omar ibn al-Khattab. Nur is an acclaimed and controversial Malaysian drama series exploring faith, love, self-interest, fame, family and hypocrisy within the Muslim community. Palace Spies is a Turkish drama series about the conflict between the Persian and Ottoman Empires in the 18th century.
Muslim cartoons and animations
Contemporary animations featuring Muslim kids and families are a rich and important medium for children to learn about their history, culture and identity. They may not have superpowers like Ms Marvel but the characters in Alchemiya’s children’s collection certainly have stories of high adventure in common with the Marvel show. Read about some of our children’s shows here. Don’t miss KR1NG, an award-winning and highly entertaining animated short film and cartoon series, with lovable characters, which explores the world through the eyes of a child with dyslexia. Alchemiya also has a collection of films about great Muslim thinkers, storytelling and animated series about Ibn Battuta, Saladin and Stories from the Prophet’s Era as well as an animated biography of Rumi. And The Journey is a captivating and educational animated series with sweet characters, including a pet parrot, that teaches children about Islamic ethics through life on a beautiful, tropical island.
Spiritually uplifting films and documentaries and films about Muslim art and heritage
Celebrating Muslim culture and heritage through film is at the heart of what Alchemiya does, and the curated films and documentaries available on this trailblazing streaming platform reflect this. For uplifting Muslim spiritual films try Alchemiya’s Heart and Soul collection, including films about Al-Ghazali and Yunus Emre, Somuncu Baba – The Secret of Love, about a historical Sufi master baker, the iconic film Bab’Aziz and a whole selection of films on Rumi, Hajj and other spiritual topics. Explore important mosques and Islamic architectural wonders in Cairo and Istanbul and enjoy halal tourism, food shows and armchair adventure through the Muslim world, including a thirty-part travel series on Ramadan in the Muslim World. There are also extensive and inspiring collections of films on art and music from the Muslim world.
Check out the Alchemiya journal for more suggestions of what to watch. With this extensive collection of Muslim family entertainment to browse through there’s no longer any need to wallow in your post Ms Marvel blues.