The Netherlands, Jordan, Belgium, Germany 2017
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.
For a long time, I have wanted to make a film about a girl who radicalises and by doing so, places herself - partly – outside society. I recognise many patterns from my own youth in Layla‘s story: the passion and commitment to social injustice, the black-and-white simplistic way of thinking and the appeal of us - against the rest of the world. When I arrived in Amsterdam in the eighties, the squatter’s movement was about to conquer the city. Within no time, my life consisted of campaigns and demonstrations. The more radical the better. I was looking for structure, for a family, for my identity.
That was 30 years ago. Jan Eilander, who is largely responsible for the screenplay, and I wanted to make a film set in the NOW. In a multicultural, upside-down society where your opinions have to be newly devised on a daily basis. In the years that Jan and I have been working on this film, not much has changed in terms of the basic idea, but a lot has changed in the world around it. The conflict is very complex and good and bad is not so easy to identify. Just the same, there is a group of young people who do not feel at home in the country where they were born. We believe it is important in this era to shine our light on a young woman and a young man belonging to that group. We want to give insight why a girl like Layla, with her character and sense of justice, needs the safe limits of a radical group to develop. She can express her dissatisfaction, profess her faith and divide the world into good or bad. But she eventually breaks out again. Ultimately the bond of the group is squashed. Her ‘external aggressive’ perception of religion and political beliefs, gives way to a more tranquil internal perception. She dares to allow more colour in her monotone view of the world, whereby she becomes closer to herself.
2016 LAYLA M.
2016 STOP ACTING NOW
2014 FRAILER (Brozer)
2008 KATIA’S SISTER (Het zusje van Katia)
2007 STAGES (Tussenstand)
1993 LOVE HURTS (Hartverscheurend)
Cast & Crew
Directed by : Mijke de Jong
Written by : Jan Eilander, Mijke de Jong
Produced by : Laurette Schillings, Frans Van Gestel, Arnold Heslenfeld
Director of Photography : Danny Elsen
Editor : Dorith Vinken
Production Design : Jorien Sont
Costume Design : Jacqueline Steijlen
Hair & Make up Artist : Trudy Buren
Composer : Can Erdogan
Sound Design : Mark Glynne
Main Cast : Nora El Koussour (Layla), Ilias Addab (Abdel)
Nominations and Awards
- EFA Feature Film Selection 2017