“On Wings of Hope”

You can download a pdf for this EPK of “On Wings of Hope”


A critically wounded young boy is cut off from lifesaving help, by severe weather and terrain and the crew of Pactec plans a medevac flight to save his life.

Extended Synopsis

A young boy is badly injured, when he is hit by a motorcycle, that fractures his head and leaves him unconscious. Cut off from the only doctor that can help him, by snowed-in mountain passes, his family arranges for an airlift to Kabul. The crew of Pactec, the only humanitarian flight service in Afghanistan, prepares a small plane that can land on the snow-packed runway to medevac the boy. Pascal Depuhl’s documentary follows the pilots and support staff of Pactec, as they serve the people of Afghanistan by providing air support and communication service for over 200 NGOs, who in turn are enabled to serve the Afghan people by the technology that Pactec provides. Featuring interviews with aid workers, Pactec’s pilots, crew, and their afghan staff, the short film gives a glimpse of how these men and their families, directly and indirectly, impact afghan society and the documentary also shows a beautiful side of the country, which is rarely seen.

Production stills

Download additional images at: Photography by Depuhl/On Wings of Hope (all images © 2012 All rights reserved Photography by Depuhl – please credit usage to: Photography by Depuhl and link image to http://www.depuhl.com)

Filmmaker’s personal statement

One thing I have learned in life: the steepest climbs have the best views.

Photograph of Pascal Depuhl while producing "On Wings of Hope" in Afghanistan.
Cinematographer Pascal Depuhl flying in one of Pactec’s aircraft in the winter of 2012, while he is producing “On Wings of Hope”.

In the summer of 2011 I couldn’t shake an idea, that kept popping back into my mind persistently. I had started filming motion about 6 months earlier, but I felt that I was not using the ability to visually communicate an idea in the scope, that I should be. As a still photographer I love hearing my clients say “That image is exactly what I saw in my mind.” However I was finding excuses not to try something more daring with my motion pictures. I emailed a friend of mine: “I’ve got this crazy idea” asking about the possibility of filming a documentary film in Afghanistan for the NGO he worked for. At this point I had no idea how to make a documentary, how this project would be funded, if it were safe, feasible, needed, … Most people, whom I told about this project, thought that I was out of my mind to even attempt to travel into central Asia. ‘Why?’ was the question, that I heard over and over again. However a few of my adventurous friends saw, what I saw and encouraged me to go out on a limb and produce this motion project. After 6 months of planning, preproduction and careful preparation, I began with nothing, but the story of the medevac as a framework for the film. Hamid, a 5 year old afghan boy, had been injured, 2 months before I traveled and we were planning to film the return flight to Lal, a small mountain village 500 miles from Kabul, with his family. Beyond that, everything was open. Filming in Afghanistan dictated that this project would be shot with the smallest possible footprint, a crew of one. The movie is shot exclusively with HDDSLR and GoPro cameras, the former being able to capture the beauty of the unspoiled country and the later giving us point of views, that are not possible with bigger or heavier cameras. Visually you constantly question, if what you have is really good footage or just you being biased and in love with what you’ve shot. Those fears were put to rest, when National Geographic and the BBC bought parts of the footage, to add into nature and social documentaries, which they filmed, later that same year. Postproduction turned out to be more work than originally anticipated. A  lot more work. Logging footage and interviews, and putting together a rough story took many more weeks than expected and this being my first documentary, my first film that tells a story without storyboard or script, my first edit, my first … I am grateful for a few close friends that lend me their experience early on in the movies life as they helped me craft the story and hone the edit into the shape that it is today.

Cast & crew bios


Pascal Depuhl filmed ‘On Wings of Hope’ in Afghanistan in early 2012. He is a still commercial photographer, who began filming 2 years ago. “On Wings of Hope” is his first documentary. Pascal was raised in Germany and lives in Miami, with his wife Jacomina and their two daughters Raphaelle and Gabrielle. (Read a longer Bio here.)

Cast (in order of appearance)

Hanelore Aidworker International Assistance Mission Iwan Pilot Pactec Daniel Pilot Pactec Larry Maintanance Manager Pactec Mark Pilot Pactec Jim Doctor Global Partners Sharif Engineer MedAir Vince Teamleader EU Agriculural Mission Sudatjhin Aidworker TF Fund Adam Linguist International Assistance Mission Laurence Head of ECHO European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Richard Program Director Pactec Ahmadullah Satellite Technician Pactec Baquibullah Financial Director Pactec Hamid Afghan boy

Premiere Events

Movie Premiere – Private worldwide premiere screening (April 8th, 2013)

This plane usually lives in Afghanistan, but for the world premiere of “On Wings of Hope,” it stood next to the screen in a 20,000 sqft hangar in Fort Lauderdale, where you could see the same plane that is featured in the movie. Pascal Depuhl, the Miami-based film-maker, introduced the project and told the story of how this documentary came to life right before “On Wings of Hope” was screened. And if that’s not good enough Daniel, the Pactec pilot, who tells the story in the documentary film, explained a little more about what the humanitarian organization that he flies for does, immediately following the film. We’ll close the official program by having a Q&A session with the audience before they took some time to enjoy finger foods and to network with other creative professionals. Check out some photos of the premiere of “On Wings of Hope” on the official Facebook page of “On Wings of Hope”.

Moving into Motion” seminar 

Many photographers don’t know where to start, as they consider how to get into shooting motion. It seems so overwhelming to look at everything that goes into producing a video for a client. And many don’t even see the need for considering motion work as a service they should offer their existing clients. This seminar will begin by looking at why a still photographer should consider motion, by exploring what our client’s customers expect to see. The lion share of the seminar will explore how to actually record video on your current equipment, by going over how to set up a Canon 5D MkII camera to be a video camera, what settings to pick (and why) and what add on equipment is helpful in creating better motion work. We’ll spend some time looking at how to set up sound for an HD-DSLR shoot and how to build a rig around your camera that creates professional-looking video. Finally, this seminar will cover how to move your motion camera to create a unique feel in your films. We’ll then screen the short documentary “On Wings of Hope”, which I filmed six months after I began offering my clients motion as part of my business. This event is sponsored by several companies, that make the equipment, which was used in creating this documentary. They will have gear on hand enabling participants can get a feel for what is available for a DSLR filmmaker.

Palm Beach International Film Festival premiere (April 6th, 2014)

“On Wings of Hope” was part of the line up at the 2014 Palm Beach International Film Festival screenings.

TEDx Talk “The Art of Changing Minds” (May 9th, 2014)

Pascal Depuhl shares how surprised he was when he saw the impact that this 15-minute documentary was having on its audiences. Time and time again people were changing their minds about how they saw Afghanistan. On one such screening at a local university, the college polled the students before and after the movie and the results were incredible …

Here is the full TEDx talk in one wordle: