She did it again! Today film-maker and journalist Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy Chinoy won another Oscar – this time for her documentary, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness. The film won an Oscar in the Best Documentary – Short subject category at the 88th Academy Awards.
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy accepted her award with a speech that applauded women and all the men who champion women:
“This is what happens when determined women get together. From Saba, the girl in my film who remarkably survived honor killing and shared her story, to Sheila Nevins, Lisa Heller from HBO and Tina Brown who supported me from day one. To the men who champion women, like Geof Bartz who has edited the film to Asad Faruqi, to my friend Ziad who brought this film to the government, to all the brave men out there like my father and husband who push women to go to school and work and who want a more just society for women! Last week, our Pakistani Prime Minister [Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif] has said that he will change the law of honor killing after watching this film. That is the power of film!”
Sharmeen previously won Pakistan’s first Academy Award for her documentary Saving Face at the 84th Annual Academy Awards in 2012. She is one of only eleven female directors who have ever won an Oscar for a non-fiction film and the only Pakistani to win two Academy Awards.
The SOC Films and Home Box Office [HBO] production film, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, is based on the practice of honor killing in Pakistan. The documentary follows the story of an eighteen-year-old woman who miraculously survived a brutal attack by her father and uncle, and with the support of a local police officer was able to have both imprisoned for their crime. Pakistani law allows for victims of honor crimes to forgive the perpetrators. Most women never survive the attack and virtually no one has ever been sent to jail for an honor killings crime. In her case she eventually had to forgive.
Inspired by her courage and the countless victims of honor crimes in Pakistan, Obaid-Chinoy launched an Anti-Honor Killing Campaign, The Price of Forgiveness [#PriceOfForgiveness] which has been successful in lobbying the Prime Minister of Pakistan to take action – he has vowed to eradicate honor killings in Pakistan.
Sharmeen has been a vocal campaigner for change, arguing that it that it is up to us to make a noise about injustice. It was never her intention to malign Pakistan, merely to change it for the better. If we, as Pakistanis, cannot change the bad in our country, if we do not speak up against that which is wrong, we are failing in our responsibility as good citizens. She has made various multi award winning films in over 10 countries around the world. Contrary to popular belief, not all her films are about controversial subjects and several of her films celebrate the good in Pakistan.
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness is set to air on America’s premier television cable network HBO, on March 07 2016. Hopefully we will be able to see it in Pakistan too at some point.
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