Pakistani documentary ‘The Unknown Mountaineers’ selected for two int’l film festivals


A Pakistani documentary on mountain climbing, ‘The Unknown Mountaineers’, has been selected for two international film festivals.

According to details, the documentary, which is directed by Shehrbano Saiyid, has been selected for the South Asian Film Festival (SAFF) Washington DC and The Monthly Film Festival (TMFF) in Glasgow UK.

The SAFF will be held from September 8 to September 11. Saiyid’s 90-minute-long documentary will be shown on the first day of the festival.

The film was also selected for screening by the Pakistan International Film Festival held in Karachi in April 2018.

The film is about a group of aspiring women climbers from Shimshal, a remote valley in northern Pakistan. The documentary follows 18-year-old Hameeda Bibi and her friends who couldn’t go to school and learned technical high-altitude mountain climbing from the men in their community.

These men work as porters and guides in mountain tourism which is the economic backbone of their area. Shimshal is at an altitude of 10,000ft and with single cropping, little grazing ground near the villages and a rugged terrain life is brutal and breeds people with a natural capacity for high-altitude mountaineering but sadly without the means to take their dreams forward.

The men scrape a living by risking their lives in what is undeniably among the most dangerous sports in the world but many have developed a passion and inspired their women to follow their dreams as well with regular training to make these dreams possible.

However, without the means, education and possibility of sponsorships the women are left living their simple lives of subsistence farming and yak herding though they have set national records in their country and even climbed a 20,000ft summit in the winter.

This film aims to follow their expeditions while also showing the harshness of their lives. It aims to give the women, these Pakistani Sherpa the recognition they deserve. It’s a story of strength, struggle, and survival set in a breathtaking landscape about a people who dare to dream.


Shehrbano is Social Studies graduate from Lahore University of Management Sciences and has Masters in Broadcast Journalism from Columbia University. She is a freelance Documentary Film Maker, she has worked as Reporter/Writer at Geo TV Network and was Consultant at Aga Khan Rural Support Program.