Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy's 'powerful' Oscar acceptance speech strikes a chord

Published: February 29, 2016
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy poses with her Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject, "A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness," in the press room during the 88th Oscars in Hollywood on February 28, 2016.  PHOTO: AFP

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy poses with her Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject, "A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness," in the press room during the 88th Oscars in Hollywood on February 28, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy delivered one of the most powerful speeches as she won another Oscar for Pakistan at the 88th Academy Awards on Sunday.

Oscar speeches run the gamut from heartfelt and funny to self-indulgent and obnoxious. But when Sharmeen took the stage it was not the same.

The filmmaker gave an inspiring speech about the power of film to make a desired change as she won an for Best Documentary Short for A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness.

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s ‘powerful’ Oscar acceptance speech strikes a chord

“This is what happens when determined women get together,” she said as she accepted the golden statuette. And people all over the world were inspired and moved by Sharmeen’s words.

Sharmeen in her speech praised “all the brave men out there, like my father and my husband, who push women to go to school and work and who want a more just society for women.”

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy mingles with Hollywood bigwigs at Oscar luncheon

“This week the Pakistani prime minister has said that he will change the law on honour killing after watching this film. That is the power of film”, she added.

This was a reference to her recent meeting with PM Nawaz Sharif, who has promised to end the illegal practice of honour killings in light of the documentary.

“Women like Ms Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy are not only a pride for the Pakistani nation but are also a significant source of contribution towards the march of civilisation in the world,” PM said in a statement.

Others in Pakistan hope the attention the film has received might help push changes through.

“She has been able to motivate the prime minister of Pakistan who until her film has not taken any step on this issue,” said Sughara Imam, who last year introduced a bill in the upper house of parliament to change the law on honour killings.

The bill did not pass, however, and it is not clear exactly how the premier proposes to change the law. “He will have to take some bold steps… Words from the PM are really not enough,” said Zohra Yusuf, chairman of the HRCP.

The film focuses on the common practice of honour killings in Pakistan and narrates the story of just one of the many victims; Saba Qaiser, a young woman who survived an attempted honor killing by her father and uncle for marrying someone of whom they disapproved.

Sharmeen dedicated the award to the many people who helped her along the way.

“From Saba, the woman in my film who remarkably survived an honor killing and shared her story, to Sheila Nevins and Lisa Heller from HBO, to Tina Brown, who supported me from day one. To the men who champion women, like Geof Bartz in my film, who’s edited the film, to Asad Faruqi, to my friend Ziad, who brought this film to the government.”

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Ali S
    Feb 29, 2016 - 7:01PM

    This and the execution of Mumtaz Qadri – two good news in one day. Pakistan seems to be on track, finally – better late than never. Say what you want about Nawaz Sharif, but he will leave behind a much better Pakistan than he inherited from the PPP.Recommend

  • Ajay
    Mar 1, 2016 - 3:48AM

    We in india can also be getting these awards if we are to start criticizing our country. But indians are patriotic lot. Anyway “congrats”. Recommend

  • brar
    Mar 1, 2016 - 5:45AM

    I am pained to see only one comment on the achievement of this great lady where as there is a flood of comments praising a killer who has been executed after allowing him to use all channels of justice, Pakistan where are you going ?Recommend

  • blah
    Mar 1, 2016 - 7:52AM


    ummm… remember Slumdog millionaire? Recommend

  • jj
    Mar 1, 2016 - 8:08AM

    @Ajay: Ok u Indians r patriotic then what about these movies.
    Bandit Queen, chakra,Chameli,Chandni Bar, Arth nd many more.Recommend

  • K Aziz
    Mar 1, 2016 - 9:55AM

    Congratulation to Brave lady. Recommend

  • Sohaila Javed
    Mar 1, 2016 - 10:28AM

    Another glorious moment for warrior women who dare the heights and ascend. Very happy for Sharmeen on her brilliant achievement. I see Richard Eyre’s words coming true here, “we need a compass rather than a road map- in fact, an inspired compass.”

    So let’s discover the best within us and be ready to find guidance from above. Consider!Recommend

  • Cancerian
    Mar 1, 2016 - 4:50PM

    Murder is murder be it of a man or woman when committed by either sex is a heinous crime…Regardless of the intent or motive behind it is condemned and punishable by law and society !

    Taken in the above context definition,what makes so-called honor killing anything special and different from a common murder act ?

    More so why is it discriminated as a crime against a woman alone ? when in fact a male partner is also put to death in most cases !Recommend

  • Truth
    Mar 1, 2016 - 4:56PM

    I said it before and I’m saying it again,they give awards so that they can spread bad things about Asian countries. You make a movie which shows positive side of u and they wouldn’t even nominate.not taking away the credit from the lady, but thats what Americans do.Recommend

  • Asadi
    Mar 2, 2016 - 6:14AM

    If you make a film that feeds on Western stereotypes of an issue, devoid of cultural context, that affects 1000 out of over 90 million women in Pakistan, they will give you an award and use that to feed the “West will liberate your women” narrative of war, while the national government will make the issue their priority, like good little colonial slaves.

  • Nargis
    Mar 4, 2016 - 2:42PM

    Congratulations Sharmeen for this amazing achievement! Bringing such a sensitive issue to light cannot have been an easy feat so kudos for shining a light on this abhorrent issue which plagues our country.

    And to haters one and all, please open your eyes and your minds. It is only by bringing these issues to light and shouting about them do people take notice and try and stop practises like this. Please get off your high horse and enlighten yourselves. If you can’t do anything positive for your country, please don’t bring down those people who do. We all turn a blind eye to issues like this and don’t even think about their disgusting nature twice until we are forced to. Be a change agent yourself and if you can’t do that, please quit your negativity. Recommend

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