AN UPHILL BATTLE
A film by Theresa Breuer & Erin Trieb
A team of female Afghan mountaineers is defying their country’s cultural rules by training to summit Mount Noshaq (24,580ft / 7,500 meters), Afghanistan’s highest peak and the second highest mountain in the Hindu Kush range, never before summited by an Afghan woman.
While women’s rights in Afghanistan have somewhat improved since the invasion of foreign forces almost two decades ago, many women and girls - especially in rural areas - still live in darkness. In an effort to challenge these gender norms and give voice and agency to Afghan women and girls, Ascend Athletics, a non-profit all-female mountaineering organization and team based in Kabul, aims to nurture a “crop of Afghan heroines passionate about improving their country and who inspire other women to break barriers.”
Ascend not only physically trains the team members, most of whom are in their teens or early 20’s, for the physical challenges of mountain climbing, but also provides leadership training, empowering them to stand against gender-based oppression. While these women come from an array of backgrounds and circumstances they are united as champions for women’s rights and to empower a new generation.
Summiting Mount Noshaq, at 24,580 feet, will be the team’s biggest feat yet, and an expedition they have been training for over the past two years. The challenges of their ascent are significant, not only physically and emotionally but metaphorically as well - representing the oppression, difficulties and injustices they face daily, in their communities and oftentimes in their own homes.
AN UPHILL BATTLE film chronicles these mountain climbers' tremendous physical and emotional feats throughout their personal journeys and journey as a team. Highlighting the individual subjects' experiences and stories, our film aims to further dialogue around similar cultural challenges, ultimately altering societal perception about the roles and potential of Afghan women and girls, and expanding the possibility of ambition, opportunity and self-worth to women in male-dominated societies around the world.
The two year training program and attempt to summit Mount Noshaq creates a natural framework for the film. Combining a rich tapestry of contemporary verité footage, sit-down interviews, conversational vignettes and home video, the film naturally juxtaposes the confinement these women face in their daily lives against the freedom and space they experience while in the mountains.
Additionally, our film intimately and thoughtfully weaves the harsh physical endeavors and hardships of the Noshaq expedition with the magnificent beauty of the vast surrounding landscape. The film is as much about the inner strength and resilience of these women as it is about their raw physical power, if not more so; the journey of each character, their individual stories and perspectives, illuminating the shared experience of not only Afghan women, but all women living in male-dominated societies.
Risks and challenges
Our challenges include:
-A successful expedition: Expeditions are always subject to weather conditions and physical reactions to the mountain, such as altitude sickness. However, some members of our film crew have vast experience with high altitude, so we are confident that with our great team in place, we will be able to face these challenges intelligently and pro-actively.
-We are still seeking funding for post-production, which this Kickstarter campaign will definitely help with! The final product we produce will be dependent on our ability to continue funding our film. However, we have already raised 1/3 of the funds needed to produce our film, independent of the Kickstarter campaign, and are confident that we can raise the rest of the funding necessary.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (26 days)