Yellow shed light on the struggles of Afghan women in the face of recent Taliban decrees. Can you share the inspiration behind the film and how your own experiences as a refugee and your Afghan heritage have influenced your storytelling?
Having grown up in Afghanistan, I had seen the chadari around me from a young age, I’ve seen my mum wear one so I was always fascinated by this blue veil and what it represented and the history interlinked with my country so when I was watching the live Taliban news conference where the spokesperson passed the decree that all women must wear the Chadari, it made me realise that there are girls and women who will have to go and buy one for the first time – and that premise arrested me instantly.
Could you elaborate on the importance of sharing Afghan stories on the global stage and how your work contributes to this cause?
Alot of stories that come from that part of the world focus on negative stereotypes of terrorism and violence but I want to share my country with the world through a different prism and with much more nuance than what the western audiences are used to. We are not just defined by a violent era in our history, and we too have interesting, deeply meaningful, funny and movie stories that the world should see and enjoy.
Your debut short film, ‘Our Kind of Love,’ was BAFTA long-listed and gained widespread recognition with millions of viewers on YouTube. How do you approach storytelling in your films to resonate with a wide audience, both in terms of narrative and thematic content?
Most of my films are subtitled and shot in my own language so I don’t compromise with that when it comes to telling my stories and the audience appreciate that because they get to enjoy my films as authentically as it should be. Our Kind of Love was about an Afghan village girl who defies our western expectations of what a village girl is and we realise that Samira, the protagonist, is both funny and sexy and Afghan and a village girl. This is what I aim to do with my films – flip the stereotype.
Could you share more about the artistic choices that you employed in Yellow?
Yellow was an absolute joy to shoot and it was just an easy production because everyone was so eager to tell this story. My artisitic choices are always collaborations with my HODs especially my DOP Yiannis Manolopoulos. We decided to shoot in my usual style of static camera and with very still and considered framing so that each frame adds to the narrative of the scene. It was alot of fun.
You’ve been involved in various aspects of the film industry, including acting and writing. How does your multi-faceted background influence your work as a director, and are there any upcoming projects or themes that you’re particularly excited about exploring in your future work?
I really do want to start doing more comedy – alot of my films are dramas but I’ve been told they are funny and I’d like to explore that side of me too and lean more into it, especially if it is an ethnic comedy, something that we don’t see alot of.