In what appeared to be a positive and courageous omen for all Pakistanis, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy has won the first ever Oscar award for Pakistan for her documentary ‘Saving Face’ at the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday.
While receiving the world’s prestigious ward, she observed, “I want to dedicate this award to all the heroes working on the ground in Pakistan and to all the women in the country who are working for a change. Do not give up as this is your dream”.
‘Saving Face’ is a 52-minute documentary which talks about the plight of women subjected to acid attacks, and a doctor who comes to Pakistan to treat them and give them hope.
Due largely to its heart-wrenching subject as well as the facts that its producer is not from a country known for making many quality films, ‘Saving Face’ has been one of the more talked about nominations at the event.
The Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy documentary follows British plastic surgeon Dr. Mohammad Jawad, who returns to Pakistan to help victims of acid burns. The documentary follows one woman as she fights to see that the perpetrators of the crime are imprisoned for life.
The film 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 Carstensenthat follows survivors of Japan’s 2011 earthquake and their struggle to recover from the wave that crushed their homes and lives.
It wasn’t an easy film to make for the confessed compulsive. In 2010, Sharmeen had just won an Emmy Award, was dealing with pregnancy and had also just lost her father. Anxious to break out of the resulting conflicting emotions, she agreed to Saving Face when Daniel Junge, a co-filmmaker, proposed the idea to her.
Sharmeen while describing her story commented, “The single act of throwing acid on a woman’s face completely ruins her life. It’s like the living dead, because if you throw acid on a woman’s face, she can seldom go home after that. To me, it’s the most heinous of all crimes against women.”
In 2003, Sharmeen won the Livingston Award for Young Journalists, one of the most prestigious awards in Journalism which no non-American had ever won. She, the courageous lady, made Pakistanis proud and Oscar award will make womenfolk stronger in a country where they are treated as property.