Australia Finally Has Its First Muslim Romantic Comedy

The movie aims to dispel misconceptions about Muslim culture in Australia.

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Perhaps the rom-com isn’t dead after all! At Friday’s Adelaide Film Festival premiere, writer Osamah Sami (award-winning author of Good Muslim Boy) premiered his groundbreaking new film: the world’s “first Muslim rom-com”, Ali’s Wedding. The film, which Sami told Fairfax is “history-making”, comes from Matchbox Pictures and is co-written by Sami and screenwriter Andrew Knight.

Tony Ayres, head honcho at Matchbox Pictures and Australian producing legend, overheard Sami telling his co-star Claudia Karvan on the set of 2009 telemovie Saved, about his arranged marriage that lasted precisely one hour and 48 minutes. For Ayres, it was a lightbulb moment: “I immediately thought, ‘There’s a film in that’.” From there, Ali’s Wedding was born.

The film, based on Sami’s experience with love and marriage in the Muslim community, takes place after a “reckless lie” sets off a chain of catastrophic events, forcing Ali (played in the film by Sami, who is also an acclaimed stage actor) to choose between his familial duty and his heart. It co-stars Offspring‘s Don Hany as Ali’s father, Mehdi; Helana Sawires as Ali’s love interest, Dianne; and Ryan Corr, because I guess he’s just in everything now.

Sami hopes Ali’s Wedding, which he has called an “affectionate and poignant story of love“, help dispel misconceptions and intolerance around Muslim culture in Australia. Since its premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival, the buzz on the film is excellent, so we reckon this is one movie to keep an eye on.

Ali’s Wedding follows the successful release of Alex & Eve last year — another Australian comedy centred on romance and race. (PSA: Alex & Eve is great and you can watch it on Stan right now. What are you doing? Go!) This new theme, of diverse storytelling through mainstream genres like rom-coms and sci-fi, is one Australia can definitely afford to get around about 1000 percent more.

The release of films like Ali’s Wedding, along with today’s news of a brand-new, diversity-focused slate of shows from the ABC, and the unprecedented diverse line-up of 2016 AACTA-nominated comedies, feels like a positive step forward for the depressingly white, straight, cis Australian entertainment industry.

Just keep pressing forward, gang!