Young LA Filmmaker Produces ‘When the Mountains Moved’ in Pakistan

The producer and her associates

Islamabad: The documentary “When the Mountains Moved: Survival and Friendship in the 2005 Earthquake” was launched on October 7, 2006 at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad. The film was screened by the Asia Foundation, produced by Eckova Productions, and directed by Marriam Azam, a filmmaker from Los Angeles. The launching ceremony was an elegant affair with the development sector very well represented. The guest list included dignitaries and diplomats as well as representatives from the top NGOs in Islamabad.
Eckova Productions, an international documentary production house with offices in Los Angeles and Karachi, is at the forefront of tackling important issues that reveal the many dimensions of the intricate relationship between Americans and Pakistanis.
“When the Mountains Moved” showcased stories of courage and sacrifice that helped build bridges of understanding and friendship between the people of the two countries at one of the most important times in their histories. Exploring the human dimension of the interaction between Americans and Pakistanis resulting from the earthquake, the film brought to light how people relate at a human level and how easily perceptions, preconceived notions and mutual suspicion break down when people respond with their innermost self. The theme and style of the documentary were positive, upbeat and celebrated the human spirit, highlighting how two diverse and sometimes diametrically opposed cultures come together and rise above these differences.
The film began with images of what Kashmir looked like before the earthquake, how serene and peaceful the lives of the locals there was, and how unanticipated such a large disaster was for the people of Kashmir. It then went on to describe the tragic 7.6 magnitude earthquake that “turned paradise into hell”.
As news of the devastation spread, aid began pouring in and so did international volunteers who left behind their own lives in the United States to help the destitute victims of the earthquake in Kashmir. Their selfless giving of their time, resources, and compassion helped change long-held negative perceptions by local Pakistanis of what Americans were like and Americans were welcomed with open arms.
Similarly, the American perception, which previously thought of Northern Pakistan as hotbeds of terrorism changed dramatically. When Americans and Pakistanis interacted with one another on a human-to-human level, they found that they were more similar than different. As one interviewee from the documentary put it, “What binds us together is far greater than all those things that separate us.” It is a common bond of humanity.
The central character of the film was Todd Shea, a relief worker who left his family behind in the United States to help the people of Kashmir. He set up his own NGO by the name of CDRS in Chikar and currently provides medical help and facilities to 150,000 people who would otherwise be without any sort of medical assistance in that inaccessible mountainous area.
In such volatile times like these, it is of the utmost importance to build tolerance and understanding between people of the United States and those of Pakistan. “When the Mountains Moved” is a groundbreaking initiative that encourages tolerance, understanding, and friendship between the people of the two nations and emphasizes the bond of humanity that ties people of different faiths and backgrounds together. The film was very well received by the guests at the event and the audience especially appreciated its timeliness.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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