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Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen wins first Oscar for Pakistan

27 February, 2012

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LOS ANGELES: Pakistani filmmaker and first-time Oscar nominee Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won an Academy Award on Monday for her documentary about acid attack victims, a first for a Pakistani.

In her acceptance speech, Chinoy dedicated the award to the women of Pakistan. "All the women in Pakistan working for change, don't give up on your dreams, this is for you," she said.

Directed by Daniel Junge and produced by Sharmeen Chinoy, the film follows British plastic surgeon Dr. Mohammad Jawad, who returns to his homeland to help victims of acid burns.

More than 100 people, mainly women and girls, are disfigured in acid attacks every year in Pakistan, although groups helping survivors say many more cases go unreported.

"The women who decided to be a part of the documentary did so because they wanted to make their voices heard and wanted to bring attention to this form of assault," Chinoy said in an interview conducted before she won the Oscar.

"The main reason that they are in 'Saving Face' is to make their stories heard and have an impact."

Many victims are women attacked by their husbands, and others assaulted for turning down a proposal of marriage. One girl in the documentary describes how she was burned after rejecting the advances of her teacher. She was 13 at the time.

Another woman featured in the film is 25-year-old Rukhsana, whose husband threw acid on her and her sister-in-law doused her in gasoline before her mother-in-law lit a match and set her on fire.

Chinoy said she hopes the cases in her film will resonate for others in Pakistan.

"It is a story of hope with a powerful message for the Pakistani audience. I felt this would be a great way to show how Pakistanis can help other Pakistanis overcome their problems," she said.

Chinoy's films have won international acclaim. Her 2010 documentary, Pakistan's Taliban Generation, won an International Emmy Award.

The documentary competed against "God Is the Bigger Elvis," a Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson film about a mid-century starlet who chose the church over Hollywood; "The Barber of Birmingham," a Gail Dolgin and Robin Fryday film that follows the life of 85-year-old barber James Armstrong and the legacy of the civil rights movement; James Spione's war film "Incident in New Baghdad"; and "The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom," a film by Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen that follows survivors of Japan's 2011 earthquake and their struggle to recover from the wave that crushed their homes and lives.


Reader Comments:

film oscar

While one can feel proud and excited that Pakistan has the privilege of being ranked among the Oscar winners of the international film industry one has to be cautious about being a little over enthusiastic. For this is a great opportunity for the western media to 'wash Pakistan's dirty linen in public'. The western media just waits for such an opportunity. They love such kind of themes as they bring out the negative side of the third world countries especially the Muslim countries.
It should be remembered that the film director is a westerner. He has a French name. Now our people collaborate with these westerners to expose Pakistan as an evil society. They are therefore highly appreciated and get a pat on the back. But are these western countries really concerned about our society and our lives? Considering the recent unlawful,mindless military intervention, the brutal bombing since 11 years in Afghanistan wounding and killing hundreds and thousands of innocent Afghan civilians, the insane drone attacks that have killed 98% innocent civilians in the border areas of Pakistan/Afghanistan mostly women and children one does not really think so. Imagine if this side of the story was shown as a film will it be given an Oscar? One does not really think so. In fact it will not be given permission to be even shown.
We have to understand that Pakistan's society ills cannot be solved by showing such films to the world. This will only become an entertainment for the public of the world but nothing will be done. The producers of the film would probably become more and rich.
Pakistan's social problems can and should be solved by Pakistan people themselves. There is an element of 'jahilliya' in Pakistan male society. We cannot deny that. How can human nature be changed. It is a difficult question. The only answer is 100% education. Without complete education a society can never improve. Follow the teachings of the Prophet (SAW) sincerely. U have the answer.

Rezan, - 27 February, 2012

film oscar

Mecca during the time of the Prophet was in the same state. The pagans were living in a state of Jahiliya. Islam cured these ills as it distinguished the difference between evil and good most effectively preached by the holy Prophet (SAW)
Pakistan in spite of having been founded as a state for the followers of Islam has failed to make the Pakistanis understand the true meaning of Islam. Our holy Prophet spoke and warned against the atrocities towards women 1400 years ago. The Prophet (SAW) taught us to respect our mothers, daughters and wives. 'Fortune lies at the feet of your mother' he said. He glorified motherhood and the status of all women on the highest pedestal. Pakistanis have to understand Islam. They are wasting their time and life in promoting 'shirk' like astrology and shrine worship. Also destroying the teachings of Islam by differentiating themselves in ethnic and linguistic differences. The Pakistan society needs to be educated in sayings of the Prophet apart from the general technical education. We do not need western society to help us make films about Pakistan's 'evil society'. They only serve to disgrace Pakistan and not really help. If they really wish to help they can do so but their motives are always shady and dishonest as we can see from past history and the politics of today. Let's not be too happy about the Oscar. Pakistanis need 100% education along with Islam. This is the only answer to solving Pakistan's social problems. Not by washing Pakistan's dirty linen internationally.

Rezan, - 27 February, 2012

More than just a personal victory

Sharmeen has taken on a brave subject and has at the same time sent a message of hope for all the victims. It was more than just a personal achievement. Her message now resonates among millions and she has brought so much awareness!

Let us join hands with her to make our society more tolerant and humane.

AbdulRehman Mahmood

Abdulrehman, Germany - 28 February, 2012

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