Friday, April 22, 2011

Prisoners of the Himalayas - an ongoing film Project

Last January/February, I went back to the Afghanistan's Pamir mountains to have my first "real" experience shooting film. It's a long story that brought us there, but it was due to the motivation of Louis Meunier (Director of the project). Louis has a long experience in Afghanistan, and he was not the first director to approach me on doing a film on the Afghan Kyrgyz - but his experience, honesty and motivation made it happen. We shared our knowledge of the area and we eventually got last-minute funding from the Danish Embassy in Afghanistan to shoot this film. Thanks so much dear Danes! This last winter was the first session of a 2 (or 3) session-shooting in the Afghan Pamir.

During an interview break, a Kyrgyz looks through my camera.

As far as filming, I was going to be paired up with another cameraman. I was fearing a show-off dude, but instead I was lucky enough to be teamed up with a kind, patient and extremely talented man: Laurent Fleutot (Director of Photography on "The Winged Migration" and "Oceans", among others).
Of course, this expedition would not have been possible without the help of our Wakhis and Afghan friends who supported us all along - it was my second winter trip up there with now famous Malang Dario, our production assistant. He was the first afghan to climb Mt Noshaq in 2009, Afghanistan's highest mountain. See Louis's other project about this here: 24.000 feet above the War.

We walked and walked and slept in dung smoked filled shepherd houses by -30C and this is what came out: Ladies and gentlemen (drum roll), I present to you "Prisoners of the Himalayas":

You can learn more about the project on our film website :


Kanani said...

I watched the footage of this on your site last week. I was utterly enthralled. Thank you for making the dangerous trek up there, and for your diligence and tenacity in getting this done.
I think you wrote it is easy to romanticize their existence, but what you showed us was a people not only locked in by international border issues, but also enslaved by an addiction to opium. So sad. Sorry I've fallen off for a bit in keeping up. My friend Tim Hetherington passed last week, and time has passed in a blur.

I've shared your site with a lot of friends, and will share the film site as well.

Meliha said...

Hi Matthieu,
Just viewed your pictures of Pakistan's Love Parade on your other site and feel like I've seen your artwork (pictures) before. By any chance, do you have any pictures/art on display in Mohatta Palace in Karachi? Last time I was there a (1+ year ago), they had a display called "Images There and Then" and some of the images look like yours. (Then again, maybe it's just a coincidence...) Was just wondering....


Matthieu Paley said...

Thanks Kanani! and greetings Meliha: I don't think any of my pictures were up in Karachi - but then again, I have found out about copyright infringement on my images in that part of the world more than once. Maybe some images I shot for the Aga Khan foundation were used, that's possible. cheers and thanks for the head's up, Matthieu