Wattpad and NL Film are collaborating on 36 Vragen (en heel veel koffie) [36 Questions (and lots of coffee)], a film based on Samya Hafsaoui’s Muslim romance story of the same name.
In 2019, Wattpad and Banijay’s NL Film agreed to jointly develop Dutch-language YA stories. This is the first major project to come out of that alliance. It will be co-written by Hafsaoui, whose romance story has logged more than 6,000 reads on Wattpad.
“Wattpad is a place where diverse communities around the world share their stories in their own voices,” said Aron Levitz, head of Wattpad Studios. “36 Vragen (en heel veel koffie) is a groundbreaking project and, ultimately, a statement: that entertainment needs more and better representation for the many different communities, voices and experiences that make up the world. We’re proud and deeply honored to work with NL Film and Samya to tell this story together.”
“One of our main objectives in working with Wattpad was finding stories that are underrepresented in the mainstream media,” said Kaja Wolffers, creative director and producer at NL Film. “In 36 Vragen (en heel veel koffie) by Samya Hafsaoui, we found a story that is so authentic and also has a very clear voice. This story is not written with the white frame on how a story about a Muslim girl is normally told, but from the perspective of a writer who is a Muslim woman herself, who has a very clear opinion on inclusivity and wants to see and read content she is represented by. This matches exactly with what we were looking for. And it is a great story too.”
“So many North American and European stories about Muslim communities, especially Muslim girls, are told by people who don’t understand the lived experiences of Muslims,” said Hafsaou. “The love stories with Muslim characters usually force women to make a choice between love and faith: the girl falls in love with a white non-Muslim boy, she fights with her family, struggles with her faith, takes off her hijab, and chooses the boy. That storyline functions as a symbol for newly gained freedom. But I am a Muslim girl, and I see myself as empowered with my hijab on. Why do we have to choose between love, faith and values that in real life merge perfectly with the places we call home? With 36 Vragen (en heel veel koffie), I wanted a story that firmly establishes characters as human and as authentic as possible from an #OwnVoices perspective. It’s a feel-good love story between two Muslims, for everyone. And this time, the hijab stays on.”