Comedy-drama "Kabullywood" follows a group of young artists who attempt to open a cultural centre in the heart of Kabul as an act of resistance against the violence in Afghanistan. The Film's director Louis Meunier won the Golden Critics Award at The Geneva International Oriental Film Festival 2017 and a Silver Award at WorldFest Houston 2017. Here he talks about why the film is so important to him and the young cast and how they had to dodge bullets to make it.

About the movie

Sabina Nasic: What is "Kabullywood" about?

Louis Meunier: "Kabullywood" tells the story of four art college students who decide to renovate a neglected movie theatre as an act of resistance against the looming return of fundamentalists.

They face many challenges along the way. Comedians play the main roles from Aftaab Theater, a group of 14 actors. Other roles are played by real-life characters, such as Naser, the projectionist of Aryub Cinema, which served as the film's main location.

You had a tough time making the film, didn't you?

The filming was difficult. Gunmen threatened us, our house was riddled with bullets, we almost died in a fire, part of the team was injured in a bombing, and eventually, the theatre we were refurbishing couldn't open after all. This setback was a major disappointment, but at least the film is here to testify about Afghanistan's situation. It bears testimony to the Afghan art scene – a unique cultural identity inspired by Bollywood music and films, Middle-Eastern lifestyle, Iranian culture, and Western hip-hop.

Filmed in Kabul

Where was the movie filmed?

The film was shot in the heart of Kabul to reveal an unknown face of the city, far from the clichés that we all read about in the daily news. We wanted to show that the youth in Afghanistan have the same aspirations as other parts of the world. We also wanted to share the beauty of the place and the richness of its cultural heritage, with youths indulging in dance, music, painting...

"Kabullywood" is the only international film shot that has been shot in Afghanistan for quite a few years, as most productions prefer to relocate to other countries. More than a film, the whole project was an act of resistance aimed at renovating an old cinema, which used to be the hotspot of Kabul cultural activity in the golden days of the 1970s.

The cinema was our main shooting location, and it was refurbished throughout the production. We spent so much time, energy, and money restoring it that we were hoping to turn it into a cultural centre in the wake of the film, but unfortunately, its doors had to remain closed for security reasons.

The message of the film

What is the main message of this film?

"Kabullywood" is important to me because it sheds light on a place the world knows only through the prism of war. It reveals an unknown facet of the Afghan capital, far from the headlines of a city hopelessly locked in violence, sexism, and fundamentalism.

Where can people see the film?

The film will be available in the UK from 29 March on iTunes, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. It's available from 9 March on VOD platforms InDemand, iTunes, Google, and Amazon in the US.