Amira Patel, founder of Wanderlust Women. A film still from I Am Capable
Amira Patel, who features in I Am Capable. Photo: Cornelia Lee 

I Am Capable is a short film about wild swimming, made by Roxy Furman. It’s an immersion - not just into the cold waters of the Lake District, but into the lives of the women it portrays. The film centres around Amira Patel, founder of The Wanderlust Women, a hiking group for Muslim women.

“The main aim is to represent Muslim women outdoors, to break down barriers and stereotypes, and to represent that Muslim women are not oppressed. We can do as much as anyone else,” she says in the short film.

I could be a part of helping to facilitate those stories being told...

Amira herself is testament to this - her Instagram is full of photos of her adventures in the outdoors, including a recent ascent of Mount Toubkal. It’s on Instagram that Roxy first found her.

“I was just scrolling and I found a picture of her paddleboarding, and thought 'oh my gosh, who is this woman? She is amazing!' I reached out to her, and started speaking with her, and she agreed to do the film,” she says.

Watch the short film and scroll down to read our interview with Roxy Furman.

Roxy has wanted to be a conservationist since the age of six, an ambition which led her to do a four year zoology degree. Upon graduation, she moved to Scotland to live and work on a boat, as a biologist and a guide - and picked up her first camera.

“I was trying to understand my role as a conservationist, and how I can spread that message to others in the most effective way. Then I fell in love with photography and filmmaking, and the power that it has in telling stories. I realised that it’s a way of bridging the gap between science and entertainment and what people's general interests are,” she says

She returned to university to study an MA in Wildlife Filmmaking at UWE. For her final project she had planned to visit Sumatra to tell a story about human-wildlife conflict. But Covid put paid to that idea.

“During this time that we all had to sit at home and learn and unlearn stuff, I started learning more about the injustices that occurred even in the UK. Before, I always thought "this happens in other places, but we're fine here". I realised how wrong that I was, and how, through more nature based films, I could be a part of helping to facilitate those stories being told,” she says.

A behind-the-scenes shot of I Am Capable, a short film created by Roxy Furman.
Roxy on location, working with her camera woman to get the perfect shot of Amira. Photo: Cornelia Lee

I Am Capable was shot in the Lake District, and films an interaction between Amira and two other Muslim women, who she is taking wild swimming for the first time. There’s a lyrical quality to the film, and an attention to detail - the ripples across a lake, sunlight through fabric, water trickling through cupped hands - that creates a sense of harmony.

“I wanted it to feel quite water-like. That was the core thread of the piece, so I wanted it to flow, and not be obtrusive, and not to force an opinion onto someone. Just to have a very gentle approach and hopefully allow things to play out naturally,” Roxy says.

She had a loose plan for the day, but wanted the women to express what they wanted - she was conscious not to ask too many leading questions. It was this that led to one of the most poignant moments in the film - where one of the women, Sham, begins to cry.

“It’s just really nice to meet other women. The sisterhood doesn’t stop with BAME, it really doesn’t,” Sham says, wiping her eyes.

A woman photographs Muslim women swimming in the Lake District, a behind the scenes shot of I Am Capable
"The sisterhood doesn't stop with BAME". Photo: Cornelia Lee

According to Roxy, by this point the entire group were in tears.

“It was such a special moment - we all women on the shoot, and they were a group of women, and we were all connecting on a really different level. I always think back to that and wonder, if we'd just met in another circumstance, would we have gotten to that point of conversation where everyone would have opened up in such an emotional way?” Roxy says.

Amira and Roxy have both received lovely messages, though there has also been the occasional negative comment, which Roxy admits she was expecting.

“There's a negative response where someone's still seeking to learn versus a negative response where there's no point even going there. It’s important to gauge that and how far you can go, whilst still trying to make an impact at the same time.”

“Amira's great at that. She's very open to answering questions and still trying, even if the question might be worded in the wrong way and may cause offence. She still tries to use it as a learning point, rather than not going there,” Roxy explains.

Three Muslim women praying outdoors in the Lake District
Amira says that being outdoors is good for physical, mental and spiritual health. Photo: Cornelia Lee.

While filming, the response from the public was also around 90% positive.

“At one point someone came up to Amira and asked her if she was lost. She's in a whole group of people - they didn't ask me or anyone else not wearing the niqab if they were lost. She told me she had experienced that before, but witnessing it firsthand was very different, and a really strange thing to observe,” Roxy says.

I Am Capable shows that Amira is not lost at all - in fact, it’s very much the opposite. It’s a film that counteracts stereotypes, and shows that everyone deserves to enjoy the transformative effect of being out in nature.

“They say when you climb a mountain, you come back a different person. And I really, really believe that,” says Amira, in the film’s closing scene.

Feeling inspired? Check out our wild swimming adventures in the UK and beyond.