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Horror Director Ali Akbar Akbar Kamal talks Godforsaken and Extremism

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Earlier this month, horror director Ali Akbar Akbar Kamal spoke with regarding his recent release, Godforsaken. A found footage horror film which explores the realities of extremism.

It’s a fantastic read which includes quite a few interesting tidbits that Ali Akbar Akbar Kamal touched on including the state of the horror film industry, life in Uzbekistan and how his production team were lucky enough to film Godforsaken in a pre-pandemic world.

This is not a Soda and Telepaths interview. If you enjoy this interview with Ali Akbar Akbar Kamal then please leave a comment over at the website.

Godforsaken is a frightening film – where did the idea come from?

Ali Akbar Akbar Kamal: When I was a young child in Tashkent Uzbekistan I heard a story about a man who came back to life at his own funeral, acted like a demented toddler then died again. I think that was the first time I stayed up all night. 

Also being from Afghanistan I could never ignore the realities of extremism.  I always had a curiosity about the effect of religion on people which can be pure and wholesome but can also be terrifying at times. 

I basically took these two factors and made a movie out of it that I know I would love. 

Was Godforsaken shot pre-pandemic?

Ali Akbar Akbar Kamal: Yes, we were lucky to go to production the month of November 2019.

While on that subject, were the release plans for the film affected at all by the pandemic?

Ali Akbar Akbar Kamal: The release would have been different if it were before the pandemic. Or at least that’s what we think; we can’t be too sure as this is our first feature film. 

We were disappointed we couldn’t screen the movie to our friends and family in Toronto, however, I do believe the pandemic gave us our own special spin on distribution and I don’t think it has affected us negatively.

Ali Akbar Akbar Kamal's Godforsaken
Ali Akbar Akbar Kamal’s Godforsaken (2020)

I imagine the film is a real hoot with an audience – do you remember the first time you screened it with an audience?

Ali Akbar Akbar Kamal: The first time we screened to an audience was in the same movie theatre that we show in the movie! We were lucky to be able to show most of the extras in September 2020 when restrictions lifted a bit in rural Ontario. The locals absolutely loved it! 

It’s a hybrid of genres – but mostly, it simply plays real. Was that important to you, that the characters remain grounded?

Ali Akbar Akbar Kamal: Absolutely. The characters feeling real and grounded makes the supernatural elements that much more effective. This is a lesson I learned when I watched The Mist. 

Do I spot some “Exorcist” homages in there?

Ali Akbar Akbar Kamal: The Exorcist is a masterpiece and always will be but I don’t think so. I may have done it subconsciously. 

Is it time the awards, like the Oscars, start considering horror movies more?

Ali Akbar Akbar Kamal: It’s surprising that they haven’t yet. Horror movies are more than just monsters and thrills. Fear is such a big part of our lives. Horror movies are perfect for telling taboo/hard to watch stories and still be able to gain a wide audience.  And most importantly, horror movies are just great fun.


Godforsaken is now available on digital from Terror Films.

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