The alpine northern reaches of the country are about to make a transition from being just a stunning backdrop to the quintessential romantic song-and-dance routine in local films. The teaser for ‘Beyond the Wetlands’ was released recently and showcases the rugged snow-clad topography as the setting for a rescue mission of a mountaineering expedition gone wrong, making it the attention-grabbing centerpiece in the over two minute-long preview.
Relevant subject matter
With notable films such as Touching the Void, The Summit, and Vertical Limit – the latter two revolving around Pakistan’s very own K2, mountain-climbing movies involving a rescue mission have evolved into their own genre. However, they are still virgin territory for local filmmakers. The subject is all the more relevant in light of mountaineering hero Ali Sadpara’s disappearance, however, the project’s filmmakers have stated that the project has nothing to do with that tragic accident. Director Arsalan Majid told a local daily that the film “bears no connection to Ali Sadpara or the events that followed (during his mountaineering expedition),” further clarifying: “We were actually quite stunned when Ali Sadpara’s unfortunate incident happened as during the shoot we would hear stories about him from the locals.”
Risky shoot at dangerously high altitude
Produced under the banner of AWB films, the movie stars an ensemble of actors and real-life mountaineers and has been shot in authentic locations near the K2 summit. No surprises that the mountaineers have performed their own stunts – these are individuals who thrive in the challenging terrain, however that does not mean shooting the film during the Karakoram winter was a walk in the park. “The team from Karachi first had to acclimatize for a few days to adjust to the severe cold as the average temperature was -25 degrees Celsius. Soon after our production equipment started failing as batteries were not able to cope with the severe cold. Our drones started falling out of the sky randomly as their batteries would suddenly deplete while in the air.”
The first film completely shot in the Karakoram
The teaser provides a glimpse of the action-adventure drama revolving around the rescue of a stuck mountaineer, with ample footage dedicated to the ethereal snowfields and forbidding heights of the Karakoram peaks. The film is an indie feature, and it remains to be seen with what success it manages to explore its genre, however, the initiative has to be lauded for being the first to take the risk of venturing, both cinematically and physically, into a not-so-familiar terrain. Earlier, Ali Zafar was set to shoot his home production ‘Deosai’ in Gilgit-Baltistan, but that venture did not quite materialize as Zafar started work on ‘Teefa in Trouble instead.’
‘Beyond the Wetlands’ stars Jahangir Abdullah, Ishaq Hushevi, Ibrahim Michael, and Mohammad Karim and is presented by AWB films in association with Sunrise Adventure. It is currently in post-production and the makers hope to release it sometime this year.