Cat and Hannah, two British women in their twenties, take on the gruelling 3000km drive along Central Asia’s Pamir Highway — the second highest international road on Earth. It runs from southern Uzbek deserts, through Tajikistan’s Pamir mountain range, climbing over 4600m, into Kyrgyzstan and all the way to its vibrant capital, Bishkek.
Their route brings them to the doorsteps of women from all walks of life, revealing a women’s movement that’s had as many ups and downs as the drive itself. A 78 year-old gynaecologist recalls the turbulent transition from Soviet rule to independence, and testimonies of domestic abuse, ‘bride kidnapping’ and religious extremism expose the region’s complex attitude to women’s rights.
But despite the evident patriarchal oppression in these countries, it’s certainly not the whole picture. Stories of female empowerment against all odds emerge, from a group training Tajikistan’s first-ever female trekking guides to a feminist collective running workshops on sexual pleasure.
With women behind the camera and behind the wheel, this documentary marks a radical departure from the typical road-trip film. Cat and Hannah gain unprecedented access to over 50 women. Their testimonies shed light on a women’s movement largely ignored by Western media.
This is a story of female emancipation and solidarity across different cultures that have a lot more in common than they might have thought.