Riz Ahmed and Left Handed Films Join SXSW Winner “Mustache” as EPs

Filmmaker Imran J. Khan joined Ahmed and his production company Left Handed Films through the Pillars Artist Fellowship, a mentorship program for rising Muslim talents.

Riz Ahmed and Left Handed Films Join SXSW Winner “Mustache” as EPs
Riz Ahmed (left) met Imran J. Khan (right) as part of the Pillars Artist Fellowship. Ahmed was immediately blown away by Khan, stating that "Imran is the real deal."

Riz Ahmed and his production company Left Handed Films are now executive producers for the 2023 SXSW Audience Award winner "Mustache" (2023), which was filmmaker Imran J. Khan’s feature directorial and screenwriting debut. The film, set in Northern California in the 1990s, follows a 13-year-old Pakistani American boy facing the challenges of public school after leaving his comfortable Islamic private school. His fears about joining public school are made worse by insecurities due to his inescapable, prepubescent mustache. The story revolves around his attempt to return to his old school and, ultimately, learning self-acceptance.

“Mustache” stars Atharv Verma in his breakout role as protagonist Ilyas. The film co-stars big names like Ayana Manji, Rizwan Manji, Hasan Minhaj, Meesha Shafi and Alicia Silverstone.

In addition to Ahmed and Left-Handed’s Allie Moore, executive producers on the project include Tyson Bidner, Josh Senior and Christopher Storer. Christina Won and Jessica Sittig produced, with Parker Mays co-producing alongside Cooper Wehde of American Light & Fixture. UTA Independent Film Group is handling worldwide sales.

Khan joined Ahmed and Left Handed Films through the Pillars Artist Fellowship, a mentorship program for rising Muslim talents. Khan was one of the fellowship’s inaugural participants when the program began last year.

In a statement, Ahmed and Moore praised Khan's visual flair, quirky humor and emotional vision, calling "Mustache" a “classic teen film from a point of view we never see.” The duo went on to call Khan’s first feature “the film we all need right now.” Ahmed and Moore continued by saying that “Mustache” is “a story that brilliantly transports us back to those awkward, hilarious and painful moments of our own that made us who we are. This is an undeniable crowd pleaser from an irresistible and unique new voice. We can’t wait for more people to see it.”

Khan expressed gratitude for Left Handed Films' support and Ahmed's partnership, stating that he is excited to work with Left Handed Films to bring the film to audiences everywhere.

Left Handed Films' previous projects include "The Long Goodbye" (2020), winner of the 2022 Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short, and "Mogul Mowgli" (2020), a rapper drama starring Ahmed. Moore, a former AMC executive, joined Left Handed Films in 2021. The company has upcoming projects with Amazon Studios and collaborations with the Obamas' Higher Ground production company, as well as the Russo Brothers' production company AGBO.

Ahmed, currently in Christos Nikou’s romantic drama "Fingernails" (2023), is represented by WME, while Khan is represented by UTA and Bellevue Productions.

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