This is part of our annual, series, “14 Days, 14 Stories”, about ordinary Pakistanis who are doing extraordinary things.
Dream big – that’s what we all grow up listening. No matter who we are and what our circumstances are, the ability to dream does not discriminate. All of us, despite our lives, can indulge in dreaming about a possible future we might like. And dreaming is an ability readily available for all.
Up in the remote mountains of Pakistan, lived a little boy who dreamt of capturing the beauty of his land and the diversity of its culture and traditions, for the world to see
Life in the mountains is exceptionally tough, as we all know, especially during the winters when there is no electricity, no fuel and no contact with the outside world.
Fayeem Avzl’s father used to work as an ambulance driver and he started his early education in Hunza from a school called Al-Amyn Model School. He then moved to Gilgit for his matriculation from the Aga Khan Higher Secondary School. During this time, he developed the liking for arts, and that brought him to NCA (National College of Arts).
He opted to study musicology at the NCA in Lahore but could not pursue it for more than a year because his interest laid elsewhere. His heart was in the moving image than in sounds. He had realized how intrigued he was by filmmaking and it became the discipline he wanted to pursue. The problem was that the administration of his college refused to let him change his subjects because he had already spent a good amount of time (a year, to be precise) to study musicology.
Many in Fayeem’s situation would have just given up because of lack of better options and the prestige that his college offered to his economic circumstances
However, Fayeem was not one of them. He wanted to pursue what he felt passionate about despite the hurdles in his way. He started looking around for options because he was not ready to be stuck studying something he was not as passionate about.
That’s when he stumbled upon a new film school. This was his cue to pursue what he wanted. He dropped out of NCA and got himself enrolled in the other school to study filmmaking. Fayeem then started working on stories from the mountains – ones he believed were full of bravery and hard work. His inspirations for work have been Michael Moore and Tarsem Singh.
Northern Viking ! Winter is coming. #mountainman . . . . #fayeemavzl #mountainman #roofoftheworld #fantastic_earth #welivetoexplore #landscape #agameoftones #pakistan #hunza #gojal #photography #natgeotravel #colors #life #mountains #film #pamir #karakoram #himalaya #like4likes #photooftheday #yourshotphotographer #amazingtravelbeauty #photostory #photojournalism #thevisualyatra #documentaryphotography
He along with his two friends, who were his juniors, have started a company by the name of The North Wind Films
“I made a film with two friends on the folk songs and folktales of Wakhi Language which is called a definitely endangered language by UNESCO. Last winters, I did cinematography for a friend’s film which was based on the shepherd culture on the mountains,” he said in an interview for For Pakistan.
He wants to start a platform for alternative cinema in Pakistan, which he likes to call “the mountain cinema of Pakistan”. He spends most of his time studying the society of the mountains. One of his films which were honored in Bulgaria was called Supun Xik – The Last of the Wakhi Shepherdess. The film also received an award in Russia. This particular film is about a shepherdess who fights against harsh environmental conditions along with social taboos to keep the tradition of shepherding alive.
“In Bulgaria, I will get a sculpture made out by a top artist, in honor of my short film. They have also promised me funding for my next film alongside the diploma I will receive.”
Fayeem feels deeply connected to the roots of his own area and his personality also embodies the traditions carried forth by his ancestors
He aims to promote tourism, especially in Northern Pakistan, because those areas have been grossly neglected their share of the development budget..
“This place is also a part of Pakistan but we feel so alienated. Leave the constitutional rights aside, at least give us access to some high-speed internet. If all other cities of Pakistan can have 3g and 4g, then why not us? When I was a kid, the Government of Pakistan started a 2MW electricity house in our tehsil, believe me, it’s been more than 18 years now and this project still hasn’t completed. The old power station is also weary, every week something breaks inside the machine and for weeks we have to stay without electricity. So, please make this electricity power station a reality, it’s not a NASA’s satellite you are building.”
Through his story, he aims to educate the population about the life up in the mountains and it is only possible because he never stopped dreaming.
Anam Became Disabled After She Was Shot In The Neck, Now She’s Pakistan’s First Quadriplegic Psychiatrist
For more stories from our series about extraordinary Pakistanis check out “14 Days, 14 Stories”.
cover image via Instagram/FayeemAvzl