PESHAWAR: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s documentary A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness was screened at Roos-Keppel Hall in Islamia College Peshawar on Tuesday. While it might have won an Oscar, it was not appreciated by the male students who believed the documentary only highlights the negative side of Pakistan.
A mixed crowd of students and faculty members made up the audience for the documentary which revolves around one of the more gruesome patriarchal crimes prevalent in Pakistani society – honour killing. And the most of the screening did not elicit praise from the young men.
However, the role of the victimised girl’s father was lauded by the criticising boys. When the father argued against freedom for girls to take their own decisions, the male students burst into applause.
On the contrary, the female students appreciated the character of the girl, seeing it as an endeavour to bring positive change, instead of going with the status quo.
The documentary also underlines flaws in the Pakistani legal system.
While responding to the criticism, Assistant Producer Saliha Qureshi said, “What we have shown in our documentary is a mirror, in it you can see both the negative and positive aspects of society.” She added, “It asks Pakistani society a very difficult question: How can a man kill his daughter or sister over [something that goes against] his values?”
Students also asked the producers present at the screening if the documentary actually intended to bring positive change then why it was not available for free in Pakistan? To this, the crew members present could not provide a satisfactory response – they said the documentary will be released on HBO.
Qureshi added they have other projects, in which a positive image of society has also been presented to the world.
After the screening, Faculty of Social Sciences Dean Dr Naushad Khan, who was profoundly touched, said younger generations must watch the documentary so they could build a world with values different from the ones that lead to honour killings.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2016.