In 2020, independent filmmaker K/XI unleashed Black Lake onto the world. A feature akin to a traumatic nightmare, the film toured the festival circuit, winning Best Cinematography at the Women in Film Festival and being nominated for various other accolades along the way. When I watched the film as a part of Salem Horror Fest last year, I was floored. The film honestly shook me, and I rewatched it almost immediately. There are very few films that I can recall having the same effect. All of the ones I could name would have well-known directors in tow. K/XI may not be a household name (yet), but her passion and powerful directing style elevate the experience. Her talent is of that caliber, making it all the more exciting for me to introduce the trailer for her latest film Maya.
Maya is about a young girl (Madiha Hidayat) who gets adopted by an elderly couple after a traumatic incident leaves her without memories. Forming a bond with the couple’s other adopted daughter Kalika (Ramsha Shaikh), the pair travel to Karachi, where Maya begins to be tormented by her memories through the grips of jinn possession. Based on true stories, the film is actually K/XI’s first feature-length film but was shelved back in 2015. Violence against the Muslim community, especially in Karachi, where the film takes place, was rampant in 2015 and, due to that climate, K/XI didn’t feel it was the best time to release a film.
In a statement, K/XI says that she was really excited by the concept trailer she made back in 2013 when she attempted to crowdfund the film. The crowdfunding had barely covered the cost of a plane ticket to Pakistan, but the director persisted without a crew most of the time to see the film get made.
Despite the conservative nature of the country and the dangers of being a woman filmmaker, I ran around markets, climbed rooftops, and pulled crazy stunts to get Maya made. Any crew I did have were young women in the community who wanted to help with lighting on set or help assist with equipment.
K/Xi, in an interview last year, revealed to Horror Obsessive that the production had also been plagued with location changes due to “supernatural” occurrences, telling us now that “The most exciting thing for horror fans might be knowing that the film contains authentic demonic sounds, which is a whole story in itself.” I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am certainly curious.
Over the past year, the writer-director re-cut the film using some of her Black Lake post-production team and securing additional funds to bring on Azam Ali, whose work can be heard in such film scores as Thor: The Dark World and Zack Snyder’s 300. K/XI plans to have Maya in the festival circuit later this year and, if the trailer is any indication, my nightmares are about to be loaded with blood-soaked floors and eerie shadow-laden staircases.