The Oscar conundrum

Was Sharmeen awarded the Oscar just because she made a documentary that Uncle Sam approved of?

Gibran Ashraf February 29, 2012
Pakistan’s first Oscar moment was momentous, to say the least. That one of our own was blessed enough to walk in front of the best of the best of the world cinema and claim her place within their ranks is a testament to the resolve of the Pakistani spirit, and an ovation to our limitless talent. At the same time it has been mired in the fact that it does portray a side that we would rather brush under the carpet.

There is some truth to both sides of the story.

To walk up and be awarded the golden statue, which has been awarded to cinematic greats like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, James Cameron, is a feat for which all of Pakistan should rightly give a standing ovation to Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.

But, has she been awarded just because she made a documentary that Uncle Sam approved of?

Some people definitely think that that is the reason. There is some history there as well with the Oscars at times awarded to those who present the US in a better light. For example, this happened in the case of Hurt Locker, which won at a time when there was Avatar.

The issue portrayed, sadly, remains an ugly reality of contemporary Pakistan. But there is of course, a silver lining to it as well. Saving Face, the documentary, one hopes, will spark greater awareness, and a sense of national admonishment over our despicable treatment of our wives, mothers, daughters and sisters.

However, many people who are praising or criticising the film and the Oscar win have not even seen it. The feature length version is due to air on HBO on March 8 (coincidently Women’s Day) and so criticising the film, yet, is a bit unfair.

In the end, the real success for a documentary is based in any tangible change that it brings to the target community. We can only hope that the cinema houses in Pakistan, which have only just rediscovered their impetus, put up Pakistan’s first Oscar winning documentary for viewing soon.

Read more by Gibran Ashraf here.
Gibran Ashraf A sub editor at the web desk of The Express Tribune
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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