London based filmmaker and camera op Cosima Barzini's new documentary High Passes takes us from the beautiful Himalayan mountains of India, to the busy metropolis of Kuala Lumpur following India’s first women’s ice hockey team as they compete for international glory.
Ice hockey may be a strange sight in India, but in the northern reaches of the country, the sport has carved out a special place. Frozen ponds high in the Himalayas, become the perfect location for the group of young women who are so eager to train professionally.
The women's collaborative spirit let's nothing get in their way. Together, they find ways around lack of funds, recognition and climate change (as their precious training grounds increasingly melt away).
Told through the voices of two of the team members, this short documentary provides a fascinating insight into their lives, and the challenges that come with being pioneers.
<< I came across the story by reading articles on Indian newspapers. After hearing so many heartbreaking stories about women in India, I was chasing a positive story to inspire women there and worldwide.
When I came across the team in an article I fell in love with the idea. I managed to find some of the girls on facebook and after months of chasing I spoke to some of them on Skype through the help of Alexis who thankfully also spoke French, which connected us!
Ladakh is a region of India I'd already heard about and wanted to visit. I thought my film was going to be about a group of girls fighting for gender equality through sports. Little did I know, but soon discovered on my arrival, that the girls were ruling the town! It was such an amazing and empowering discovery to realise Ladakh is a region with such high gender equality.
The idea of going to a town in the middle of the Himalayas at 3500m altitude, -25 degrees at night, and hardly any electricity was scary at first. However, the people there were so lovely and welcoming and the views and places were just breathtaking. I soon felt at home.
The filming of the documentary was quite tricky as team organisation was quite complicated with different divisions, plans changing all the time, lack of internet and phone connection etc.. The Malaysia trip happened literally from one day to the next. Getting filming permits in all the different locations, visas and dealing with bureaucracy in Ladakh, Delhi and Kuala Lumpur was a bit of a nightmare from day one but getting a fixer helped the process a lot.
I think the experience taught me that planning is key when it comes to docs and that sometimes your film can take a different turn but you always have to be ready for a plan B, a story B and therefore, a film B. You have to be flexible, open minded and never give up. >>