It would be wrong on my part to say that documentary making is a dying art in Pakistan, for it never really blossomed in our part of the world – it was never truly born. Our sensibilities are limited when it comes to this art form, for we have little understanding that documentary making is not solely the domain of news channels and sociopolitical prime time shows.
Given these circumstances, it’s hard to understand that documentary making is an art form which is not all about putting together mechanical montages, clichéd interviews and re-enactments of zero aesthetic value. However, despite this there are people who have managed to make internationally acclaimed documentaries in Pakistan. The only problem is that these documentaries have not received the acclaim they deserved from Pakistanis as they touched upon sensitive issues which the average citizen does not feel comfortable in confronting.
Filmed in the summer of 2014, ‘K2 and the Invisible Footmen’ is a documentary which should be a source of pride for Pakistan, and here are a few reasons why:
1- Highlights the lives of the hard working porters of K2
The porters of K2 are the people who trek all the way to the mountain base camp with at least 20 kilos of your luggage on rates that would make you cry. Iara Lee, the Brazilian filmmaker and activist behind this documentary, made sure she conveyed the lifestyle of these porters in the most dignified way possible. The portrayal of their lives not only fills you with pride for their hard work but also makes your heart ache for their lack of resources.
2- Aesthetics and cinematography
Credit for the amazing cinematography and aesthetic value of the film goes to Mr. Jawad Sharif – the cinematographer and editor of the film who hails from our very own Islamabad. Known for his focus on aesthetics, Sharif has brought each and every shot to life. Even the interviews do not seem boring with all the beauty inherent in each shot. Jawad is Famous for his documentary on Samina Baig "Beyond The Heights”.
K-2 & The Invisible Footmen – Official Trailer from Jawad Sharif on Vimeo.
3- International screenings
The film has been screened at the Harvard-Brown Festival at Harvard University around the same time that Sarmad Khoosat’s ‘Manto’ was also being screened there. From Brazil to Kazakhastan, the film has not only had many screenings but also won many hearts and awards. In Pakistan too, it has been screened twice in Lahore (at PIMFF and Khayaal Festival) and once in Islamabad (at Face Film Festival). It is soon scheduled to be shown in other parts of the world, including Turkey, Spain and India.
The best part is that the film does not embroil itself in controversies but focuses on a simple and realistic portrayal of life. It’s filled with humour and the occasional cheekiness of the porters, showing audiences the mighty K2 on the 60th anniversary of its first ascent. The film may make you cry and laugh, but above all it should make you proud of the wonders that exist in Pakistan.
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