Documentary by Pakistani filmmaker, ‘The Valleys Our Ancestors Chose’ wins big at the South Asian Short Film Festival

Pakistan (Muhammad Yasir)

‘The Valleys Our Ancestors Chose’, a captivating documentary and part of the docuseries Voices from the Roof of the World, has been honoured with the esteemed Mrinal Sen Golden Award for Best Direction in Documentary at the sixth South Asian Short Film Festival.

Director Tazeen Bari’s film gives an eye-opening and touching perspective into the lives of the Kalasha community, an indigenous group residing in the valleys at the foothills of the Hindu Kush Mountains in Pakistan.  Living on the frontlines of climate change, the film captures how the remaining people of the Kalasha community come face-to-face with the devastating impacts of severe unusual weather conditions. The catastrophic floods in Pakistan in 2015 wreaked havoc on infrastructure, livestock, fields, homes, and livelihoods of thousands, including the Kalasha community, posing an existential threat to Pakistan’s smallest indigenous group. ‘The Valleys Our Ancestors Chose’ documents the community’s annual harvest festival, providing a profound exploration of their resilience and determination in the aftermath of historic floods that devastated much of Pakistan.

Expressing her gratitude for the award, Tazeen said, “I am deeply honoured and grateful for the recognition. This film is a testament to the strength and resilience of the Kalasha community and their unwavering spirit in the face of climate change. Together, we hope to amplify the voices of marginalized communities and contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive future.”

“The record-breaking floods of 2010 and 2022 in Pakistan were two of the most devastating natural disasters that caused widespread damage and displacement. These floods were a warning to South and Central Asia that climate change is a serious and present threat to the region. We need to work together to prepare for the challenges of global warming, by developing innovative local solutions and capacity to support local governments and civil society for relief efforts.” said AKU President Dr Sulaiman Shahabuddin.

Voices from the Roof of the World is a joint initiative of the Aga Khan Development Network agencies: Aga Khan University, Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, Aga Khan Foundation, and the University of Central Asia. The docuseries aims to highlight the challenges faced by communities due to climate change, and local solutions adapted to tackle adversities.  The series aims to create awareness around global warming and inspire government, business and civil society leaders to work on reversing the region’s ecological destruction and conserve nature and wildlife.

‘Shepherds of Naar’, another documentary of the series Voices from the Roof of the World also gained recognition at the festival with the Satyajit Ray Golden Award for Best Documentary.