Independent UK prodco Chief has announced the production of new sustainability-focused documentary Pot of Gold in partnership with global humanitarian relief and development charity Human Appeal. The film marks the first fully foreign film ever shot in the breathtakingly mountainous region of Azad Kashmir, a sensitive, misunderstood, historically rich and rarely visited region of Pakistan.
The film takes audiences to the valleys of Kashmir where beekeeper Shakeel Khan has committed his life to learning about the nature of bees and their delicate work. However his story takes a dramatic turn following the impact of the most destructive earthquake the region has ever seen.
A project from global charity Human Appeal to expand beekeeping in this remote area sees Shakeel’s lifetime of work unexpectedly become a lifeline for the most vulnerable members of his community, following the earthquake that has turned the lives of the people of Kashmir upside down.
Further ecological disaster was to follow during the making of the project, with Pakistan suffering its worst monsoon in decades, affecting 33 million people. With the impact and severity no doubt intensified by human-induced climate change, this massive (un)natural disaster highlights the vulnerability of remote communities and the unjust nature of climate impact, and elevates the importance of local and environmentally-focussed sustainability projects.
Pot of Gold tells the incredible, heart-warming story of Shakeel and his fellow Kashmiri beekeepers as they find themselves stranded on the frontlines of environmental chaos, using the collective wisdom and resilience of the Kashmiri people to secure their livelihoods, and those of the future generations and beekeepers of the region.
The film from Chief Productions for Human Appeal will be presented at domestic and international film festivals, where it will be marketed for distribution. It is produced and authored by Billy Offland and directed by Olivier Richomme. Colin Offland is Exec Producer and Alan Hamilton is the writer.
Colin Offland, CEO and executive producer, Chief Productions said: “It isn’t often that you come across such a poignant and distinctive story as this one. Human Appeal’s project in Kashmir has been revelatory, particularly in highlighting the delicate ecosystems of the natural world and the importance of locally-driven sustainable projects like these when facing an ongoing climate crisis. It has been an eye-opening and fulfilling experience to be welcomed as the first fully foreign production team in Kashmir and we’re grateful for the team at Human Appeal for allowing us to bring this story to the screen.”
Owais Khan, Deputy CEO, Human Appeal added: “Committing this project to film, which seeks not only to reinstate this region’s biodiversity but also to give local communities a sustainable livelihood, is truly an amazing story. As is the fact this initiative has transformed the lives of the local community enabling farmers to sell over £1 million pounds worth of honey since the start of the initiative some nine years ago. Chief have been tremendous in applying their knowledge and craft to bringing Pot of Gold together and what we have seen so far is heart-stirring and a compelling narrative of the human relationship with nature.”