K-2 & The Invisible Footmen


Logline: The selfless porters of the Karakoram and Himalayas give an insight into their lives, which are as rugged as the terrain they conquer to help mountaineers reach the summit.

K2 & the Invisible Footmen documents the unsung efforts of Pakistani porters, who for decades have facilitated the ascent of the Earth’s second-highest mountain.

Located on the border between Pakistan and China, K2 is the second-highest mountain on Earth. For many climbers, it is an even greater prize than Everest, with limited routes, a steeper ascent, and a harder push to its summit. Nicknamed the ‘Savage Mountain,’ K2’s peak juts unprotected into the atmosphere, regularly exposing climbers and porters to life-threatening weather conditions. Despite being paid at rates far below those received by international expedition leaders, such porters—whether they provide critical supplies to expedition base camps or take on higher-altitude tasks in support of ascending climbers—do some of the most difficult and dangerous work and these efforts make them worthy of recognition as the true heroes of mountaineering.

The film also follows the first official all-Pakistani climbing team, made up of former porters, who successfully summited in 2014, in celebration of K2 60th anniversary. Amid breathtaking scenery, the film depicts the everyday sacrifices of porters and the courage of those indigenous climbers who choose to return to scale K2 in spite of past tragedies. In their striving to perfect their craft, these mountaineers provide a fresh look into the cultures and national traditions of Pakistan, a country typically portrayed in the foreign media as merely a land of conflict and sectarian strife.

The documentary film won 36 International Awards and screened at more then 100 International Film festivals.

Director & Producer

Iara Lee

Cinematographer & Editor

Jawad Sharif

Released year




PAKISTAN / LAHORE, Audience Award, Pakistan International Mountain Film Festival, 2015

SPAIN / TORELLÓ, BARCELONA, Jury Prize, BBVA Mountain Film Festival, 2015

BRAZIL / RIO DE JANIERO, Best Film, Rio Mountain Festival, 2015

ITALY / SALENTO, Best Documentary, Salento International Film Festival, 2015

INDIA / JAIPUR, Best Cinematography Award and Best Sound and Editing Award, Jaipur International Film Festival, 2016

POLAND / KRAKOW, Second Place, International Film Competition, Krakow Mountain Festival, 2015

KASHMIR / SRINAGAR, Prof. Hamid Award of Excellence, Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department/Jammu and Kashmir Mountaineering and Hiking, 2015

BANGLADESH / DHAKA, Best Documentary, Women Filmmaker Section, Dhaka International Film Festival, 2016

SLOVENIA / LJUBLJANA, Slovenian National Television Award for Best Film, Festival Gorniškega Filma, 2016

INDIA / JAIPUR, Best Cinematography Award and Best Sound and Editing Award, Jaipur International Film Festival, 2016

ITALY / CONDOVE, Best Film, Alps Competition, Valsusa Film Festival, 2016

BOLIVIA / SUCRE, Best International Mid-Length Film and Audience Award, Pukañawi Festival Internacional de Cine de los Derechos Humanos, 2016

ARGENTINA / USHUAIA, Best Full-Length Film, Festival Internacional de Cine de Montaña Ushuaia Shh, 2016

POLAND / LADEK, Best Film on Man and Mountain, Ladek Mountain Film Festival, 2016 

ITALY / MILAN, Italian Touring Club Prize, Milano Mountain Film Festival, 2016

UNITED KINGDOM / LONDON, Best Film Award – Development, We the Peoples Film Festival, 2016

CZECH REPUBLIC, First Place, Climbing and Mountaineering Film, International Festival of Outdoor Films, 2017

PAKISTAN / KARACHI, Best International Film, Pakistan Calling Film Festival, 2016

SPAIN / ISABA, Best Mountain Film, Ukerdi Mountain Film Festival, 2016

CHILE / VALPARAISO, Best Feature Length Documentary, Festival Internacional de Cine del Cono Sur, 2016


ROMANIA / CLUJ-NAPOCA, Second Place, Sound Designer of the Month, April Edition, 12 Months Film Festival, 2017

ITALY / SAN VITO, Audience Award, SiciliAmbiente Documentary Film Festival, 2017 

MEXICO / ROSARITO, Best Documentary, Logcinema Rosarito International Film Festival, 2017

IVORY COAST / ABIDJAN, Special Participation Prize, Bushman Film Festival, 2017

SLOVAKIA / POPRAD, Official Selection, International Festival of Mountain Films, 2015

UNITED STATES / BUFFALO, NEW YORK, Official Selection, Buffalo International Film Festival, 2015

CAMBODIA / PHNOM PENH, Official Selection, Phnom Penh International Film Festival, 2015

SPAIN / BILBAO, Official Selection, Bilbao Mendi Film Festival, 2015

UNITED STATES / MISSOULA, MONTANA, Official Selection, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, 2016

BULGARIA / BANSKO, Official Selection, International Bansko Film Festival, 2015

UNITED KINGDOM / KENDAL, Official Selection, Kendal Mountain Film Festival, 2015

THE NETHERLANDS / HEERLEN, Official Selection, Dutch Mountain Film Festival, 2016

ITALY / TRENTO, Official Selection, Trento Film Festival, 2016

POLAND / GDANSK, Official Selection, Gdansk International Film Festival, 2016

POLAND / LADEK, Official Selection, Ladek Mountain Film Festival, 2016

UNITED KINGDOM / LLANBERIS, WALES, Selected, Climbing & Mountaineering, Llanberis Mountain Film Festival, 2016

UNITED STATES / PORTLAND, MAINE, Official Selection, Maine Outdoor Film Festival, 2016

KURDISTAN / DUHOK, Official Selection, Duhok International Film Festival, 2016

BOLIVIA / SUCRE, Official Selection, Pukañawi Festival de Cine de los Derechos Humanos, 2016

GREECE / ATHENS, Official Selection, Athens Adventure Film Festival, 2016

UNITED STATES / LOS ANGELES, CA, Best Documentary Film Award Nominee, Arpa International Film Festival, 2016

UNITED STATES / GUAM, Official Selection, Guam International Film Festival, 2016

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO / GOMA, Official Selection, Congo International Film Festival, 2017