NEWS, Pakistan, Released docs, USA — 02/28/2012 11:44 PM

With “Saving Face”, Pakistan celebrates its first (doc) Oscar

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Karachi-born freelance journalist and filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won first-ever Oscar for Pakistan on Sunday in Los Angeles for her film “Saving Face” under the category ‘Best Documentary, Short Subject’.

Sharmeen’s documentary, co-directed by US-based Daniel Junge, is based on acid attack survivors in Pakistan. In her acceptance speech Sharmeen said she hoped 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 their countrymen overcome their problems,” she said.

Dedicating the award to main subjects Rukhsana and Zakia, she said that their “resilience and bravery in the face of such adversary was admirable”. “Daniel and I want to dedicate this award to all the heroes working on the ground in Pakistan including Dr Mohammad Jawad who’s here with us today,” said Sharmeen, referring to her co-director Daniel Junge.

“Jawad was the plastic surgeon working on rehabilitating all these women including Rukhsana and Zakia, our main subjects of the film, whose resilience and bravery in the face of such adversity is admirable,” she added.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in appreciation for Sharmeen’s achievemen, announced on Monday a civilian award for her. President Asif Ali Zardari also felicitated Sharmeen for winning the Oscar that he described an honour for Pakistan which highlights the sufferings of women in the country.

In a message read out by her mother, Sharmeen said she hoped to screen “Saving Face” at schools, colleges and in communities across the country “to spread awareness and promote dialogue in Pakistan”.

About the documentary:

“Saving Face” chronicles the work of British Doctor of Pakistan origin, Dr Jawad, who performed reconstructive surgery on survivors of acid attacks in Pakistan. The documentary, which is filmed across Islamabad, Rawalpindi and some small towns of the Punjab, was released in the US in November. It is due to be released in the UK in March, after which it will be released in Pakistan.

“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,” Sharmeen said in an interview conducted before she won the Oscar.

About the director:

Sharmeen was born in Karachi in 1978 and attended the prestigious Karachi Grammar School for her early education. She graduated from Smith College with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and then went to complete two Master’s degree from Stanford University in International Policy Studies and Communication. She is currently a faculty member at media sciences department in SZABIST (Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and technology), Karachi. Known for documentaries dealing with life in the Muslim world, Sharmeen became the first non-American to win the Livingston Award and her films have been aired on networks like Channel 4, CNN, PBS, and Al Jazeera. She began her career with New York Times Television in 2002 where she produced Terror’s Children, a film about Afghan refugee children, which won her the Overseas Press Club Award, the American Women and Radio and Television Award, and the South Asian Journalists Association Award. Sharmeen’s films have won international acclaim. Her 2010 documentary Pakistan’s Taleban Generation won her an International Emmy Award.

Fellow Pakistani documentary filmmaker and multi-media expert, Musadiq Sanwal, said: “Sharmeen’s documentary and its winning an Oscar shows Pakistan is creating its own narrative and gaining its own voice internationally,” Sanwal said. “Earlier, Pakistan had no voice at all to describe its strength and weaknesses, but now such efforts give it emancipation and power.”


Film trailer on YouTube

SOURCES:, AFP (28/02/12)


.Oscar-nominated doc “Saving Face” debuts March 8 on HBO


. Oscar comes home: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy gets Pakistan its first Oscar  (28/02/12)

. Film on acid attack victims nets Pak 1st Oscar  (28/02/12)

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