Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s documentary lands coveted Oscar nomination

Published: January 25, 2012
Obaid-Chinoy received the Emmy award for her documentary Pakistan: Children of the Taliban in 2010. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Obaid-Chinoy received the Emmy award for her documentary Pakistan: Children of the Taliban in 2010. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

KARACHI: Pakistani journalist and documentarian Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s latest venture Saving Face has won an Oscar nomination under the category ‘Best Documentary, Short Subject’.

Saving Face is the story of two women from Southern Punjab who are victims of acid violence.

“It is a positive story about Pakistan on two accounts: firstly, it portrays how a Pakistani-British doctor comes to treat them and it also discusses, in great depth, the parliament’s decision to pass a bill on acid violence,” Obaid-Chinoy had said when her film was short-listed for nominations in October 2011. According to the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill, the perpetrators of acid violence will be punished with imprisonment for life and Obaid-Chinoy has captured that aspect in her latest venture.

Obaid-Chinoy received the Emmy award for her documentary Pakistan: Children of the Taliban in 2010.

The documentary, which is filmed across Islamabad, Rawalpindi and the small towns of Punjab, released in the US in November. It is due to release in the UK in March 2012, following which it will be released in Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 25th, 2012. 

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Reader Comments (44)

  • Jan 24, 2012 - 7:48PM

    Great, please keep this positive move up and Pakistan wish you very best of luck


  • Jan 24, 2012 - 7:51PM

    Way to go Sharmeen ! The true face of Pakistan is YOU ! Really a Proud for you , your team and for all of us in Pakistan ! Oscar or no Oscar you will always be in our heart but hey we want to see Oscar in your hand.


  • FJ
    Jan 24, 2012 - 7:58PM

    keep going, gal…we need more people like you:)


  • Muzaffar
    Jan 24, 2012 - 8:02PM

    While I would like to congratulate Ms. S. Chinoy for achieving in a way the best recognition which any person of entertainment industry would wish for. However, unfortunate that the topics which are covered are rather not very positive from the countries/societies point of view. Such topics do not exist but there are many positive topics which never seem to given the due consideration.
    We blame the west and its media in projecting the negativity about Pakistan, well what do we do ourselves…..lets think and try to change own approach.


  • Wajiha Mohsin
    Jan 24, 2012 - 8:19PM

    Great job …I wish there is something kept for me by Allah in helping victimised people who have been tortured to face burn for filmsiest reasons like rejecting a sentimentalist’s so-called love, not accepting to perform a bad deed Pakistanis like Chinoy are quite lucky to have a chance of working for weak people and earn appreciation. Proud of you .


  • Asad Shairani
    Jan 24, 2012 - 8:48PM

    Sad to see that for some of us a better approach to solving problems is ignoring it. Sharmeen and people like her care and hence spend their money and energies towards highlighting the issues and people cant stop criticizing the fact that it portrays the wrong image of the country. Amazing work by her – I hope she gets the nod!


  • Binte
    Jan 24, 2012 - 9:22PM

    @Muzaffar: I understand your point. However, humanity is more important than patriotism. I admire Sharmeen for covering this topic. Our politicians will take no action unless pressure comes from the West, unfortunately.


  • Fazal
    Jan 24, 2012 - 9:37PM

    Its awesome to know people doing such a gargantuan jobs and rewarded too in return, more important is that sites like Tribune keeping that work alive by publishing it. I have not seen it till date in any TV channels.

    I am still confused for what purpose they talk about ” Independence of Media”.

    KEEP IT HIGH ! !


  • fatima
    Jan 24, 2012 - 9:40PM

    Its kind of amazing to see how difficult it is for some people to appreciate someone who is actually doing something for the country while they doing nothing themselves.Not only has this lady highlighted an important issue but also gotten our country our first oscar nomination. And all you can say is that the documentary isnt pretty enough for you? well maybe if we actually started doing sth to eradicate these ugly issues it would be easier to project a ‘positive’ image of the country. if you are so concerned about appearanced and not letting your dirty laundry be aired in public maybe you should do sth abt that laundry in private.


  • Indian muslim
    Jan 24, 2012 - 10:48PM

    Great News… She is one of the most famous liberal voice of pakistani society..

    I am her big fan..

    Pls watch her documentary :- *Pakistan – Children of The Taliban*

    I am sure she will win..


  • Agha
    Jan 24, 2012 - 10:52PM

    Make a movie on anything about Islam and Pakistan in a -ve light and you too can win an oscar.


  • Muzaffar
    Jan 24, 2012 - 10:55PM

    @fatima: Calm down. Refer to my first line: “While I would like to congratulate Ms. S. Chinoy for achieving in a way the best recognition which any person of entertainment industry would wish for”. Your comment is the usual problem in us i.e. assume and think emotionally. Kindly read my comment again with a balanced mind.


  • Samia
    Jan 24, 2012 - 10:57PM

    Well done!!!!! Wish you all the best and hope you win, even if you don’t you are a winner for us :) x


  • Afaaq
    Jan 24, 2012 - 11:07PM

    Hows does a documentary which highlights acid abuse, show a positive image of Pakistan? Though the effort is noble, the sad part as Muzaffar highlights is the need to think about where we stand as a society.


  • Jan 24, 2012 - 11:21PM

    Come on guys , appreciate her for being the voice of those who have suffered long in this country . If you want to Voice for some cause then utilize the abilities granted to you by Almighty and portray any positive stuff which you believe is in your eyes regarding Pakistan . No one has hold you back to do your part .If some still thinks that this is not the kind of portrayal you wish to have for Pakistan , then my friends go out and eradicate the menace out from our society . Sharmeen deserves this and everyone in Pakistan should be Proud of her. Own up the Star like Sharmeen my fellow Pakistanis , you need alot of courage and dedication to be like her .


  • Afaaq
    Jan 24, 2012 - 11:55PM

    Nobody above has said anything about her not doing well to highlight a problem. Some are merely highlighting the focus should be on the problem, not just on someone highlighting it.


  • Hassan
    Jan 25, 2012 - 12:25AM

    Jeet hai


  • Frumma
    Jan 25, 2012 - 2:55AM

    Wonderful but Daniel Junge also deserves mentioning as he co-directed the film as well! Hope this film gets all the visibility it deserves and starts a larger movement to eradicate this horrible violence.


  • Pakistani in US
    Jan 25, 2012 - 3:35AM

    Shermeen didn’t make this documentary to get an Oscar nomination (or picked a topic that would appeal to western audiences), she made it because she believes in raising these issues. No body in his/her right mind would risk their lives (as she did for children of Taliban) and I am immensely proud of her for that.


  • Sadia
    Jan 25, 2012 - 4:19AM

    It’s sad to see instead of appreciating someone who has won laurels for our country some of us are putting her down. It is our national character that we heap scorn over the heads of our own heroes. Anyone remember Dr Abdul Salaam. We can be ostriches and bury our heads in the sand or look the problem in the eye.Ms Chinoy has chosen the later. Those who castigate her for choosing to air Pakistan’s dirty laundry should remember this is not a problem she has cooked up. It’s there in our society. Maybe these people have never seen an acid burn victim in person. I have and i say we as a society deserve the disgust we may get.

    Ms Chinoy, many congratulations and i hope you win it.


  • Jan 25, 2012 - 5:38AM

    Sharmeen has a very ambitious social and educational reform agenda for her country. In addition to her career as a filmmaker, Sharmeen is a TED fellow and a social entrepreneur. She is actively working to bring about an “education revolution” in Pakistan’s Sindh province.

    What Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and her fellow social entrepreneurs are doing in Pakistan’s unhealthy culture of complaints is truly inspirational. Let’s hope others will follow in her footsteps to light candles and not just curse darkness.


  • BS.Detecter
    Jan 25, 2012 - 8:46AM

    Winning an Oscar nomination is no child’s play. I really congratulate her for bringing Pakistani cinema into limelight.

    “Glorious Resolve” is another best true event movie which deserves international response


  • Jan 25, 2012 - 9:12AM


    I see this recognition as a positive. The film shows the caring side of Pakistanis….a plastic surgeon donating time to restore victims faces, and a parliament passing laws to punish perpetrators of such insanity. These Pakistanis are lighting candles, not cursing darkness.


  • Saeeda Sikandar
    Jan 25, 2012 - 9:33AM

    It looks like an unanimous vote men from Pakistan want to sweep the ills of society under the carpet others are totally jealous and refuse to believe if we view the ills in our society we can start a conversation and work to improve and then we as a nation can heal..


  • Literati
    Jan 25, 2012 - 10:14AM

    Excellent work by Sharmeen. Hopefully this will provide an impetus to others amongst us to raise our voices against the myriad social injustices that are prevalent in our nation.

    Though it was interesting to read that this revolves around a British-Pakistani plastic surgeon who came to help these women. With so many talented surgeons working in Pakistan, it is sad to see that we must rely on someone to come from abroad to aid those in plight.


  • Farheen
    Jan 25, 2012 - 10:24AM

    It is a great achievement — at the same time it is a testament to the fact the the West only pays attention to projects that highlight negative aspects of Pakistan and filmmakers tend to lean that way to get commissions. This is an unfortunate reality.


  • Pakistani
    Jan 25, 2012 - 1:04PM

    Congratulations Sharmeen. Please keep it up and made some more documentaries.


  • Jan 25, 2012 - 2:02PM

    Very proud work! i am very happy to see this ,the good work is been shared with people,as many time we hear only about …. politics and ….politicians, thank you for sharing this great achievement of our sister and i bet there are hundreds of Amazing taleneted Pakistanis doing great great work for pakistan within capacity but unfortunately our media has time for …. politics and …politicians, let work to bring the good work to people and get our of these messy politicians!

    prayers and good wishes to you My sister!
    all the best!


  • Adnan Rasool
    Jan 25, 2012 - 8:08PM

    It could be good only if it shows the positive things about our country otherwise getting famous by spreading bad things about ur country (even if they are true and real) isn’t a success i believe. .


  • Nomi
    Jan 25, 2012 - 8:27PM

    If she had made a documentary on Drone Attacks victims, it wouldn’t have got western attention.


  • Salman
    Jan 25, 2012 - 10:35PM


    I think her film that won the prestigious Emmy was on drone attack victims. Look she’s done something that no one has for Pakistan. I think we should celebrate this. It’s like getting into the world cup final.


  • Asma
    Jan 25, 2012 - 11:06PM

    Great Job. You have made the women of Pakistan proud!!!


  • Kashif
    Jan 25, 2012 - 11:08PM

    Very well done madam. Please tell them that v are not terrorist,


  • anum
    Jan 26, 2012 - 12:26PM

    good going!…we need people like you….make us proud!….


  • Robina Niaz
    Jan 27, 2012 - 12:46AM

    Congratulations Sharmeen…you do Pakistan and all of us proud! So very happy…may Allah reward you for your hard work and protect you.


  • Nomi
    Jan 27, 2012 - 1:02AM

    Can you provide any information of her Emmy Nominated movie on Drones? Any link or information to testify your statement.


  • Noor
    Jan 30, 2012 - 10:29AM

    Are we so hungry for foreign recognition?

    Our so-called achievers are always looking for awards & medals from Western organizations.

    Is this what for we were created?

    Come on revert to the Divine message of Quran, which is not just for Muslims but for the entire humanity.


  • Danish
    Jan 31, 2012 - 2:01PM

    ok the argument is that we are disrespecting our nation by highlighting ‘bad’ things about it. How about respecting our nation by ‘actually giving a damn when the nation’s daughters have their lives ruined.’?

    Are we not disrespecting our nation b sweeping their problems under the carpet? does our discomfiture at the image this documentary projects more important than their lives and their stories of horror?


  • mani
    Feb 3, 2012 - 10:38PM

    Why we always shows -ive aspect of our society. There are many positive things are also going in society. Why not we make documentries of invidual and collective response of our people in crisis like earthquake,floods inland settlements of swat people. Pakistan as country and Pakistani as nation already -ively shown in world and this documentry stamped on it.


  • Aisha
    Feb 8, 2012 - 9:34PM

    First Congrats to Sharmeen for her work.

    Second I feel that the issue was blown out of proportion, there might have been incidences like these but rare. Spreading negativity about Pakistan at this time is not patriotic at all. I sincerely ask all the people that how many women they have seen or even heared about with acid incidences. There is a documentry that was made couple of years ago about acid incidences in India against women, that documentry was played on the public TV in US. I never saw that documentry winning any award. Probably western societies do not need bad publicity for India. Anyway my point is that all these coment about women suffereing are pointless, I see women walking around in sleeveless clothing, backless clothing but no acid and that is in Punjab.
    There might have been cases with acid but they are not as widespread as they have been portrayed. It is bad for our nation. And yes I do agree that this bad publicity is awful and one needs to understand that why a documentry that showed a more widespread issue where hundreds of girls wered affected with acid in India did not get an award but the story of 2 women with acid got the award.


  • Uzma
    Feb 17, 2012 - 1:37AM

    We are so proud of you Sharmeen! May Allah Give you more fame and prosperity. I wonder why have you selected only two girls for this film whereas we have people like Masarrat Misbah working for the same cause by the name of Depilex Smileagain Foundation who has cured more than 100 such girls and is treating I think over 400 such patients. Above all she also arranged marriages of these girls and I attended the marriage of one these girls. It was the best marriage I ever attended. She was also awarded by the President of Pakistan with the “Pride of Performance” award for her great work. I wish if you could have incorporated them in your movie, it would have made people understand the magnitude of the problem in a better manner. This is such a big menace and there are so many women suffering because of this barbaric act with usually goes unnoticed.
    I however salute Dr Fawad and you for all the effort and wish you best of luck. Please come to Pakistan with Oscar in your hands. We are desperately waiting for this!


  • Huma Shah
    Feb 27, 2012 - 1:03PM

    @Aisha… apparently u lead a cloistered life. … and for all the ppl saying that its a negative portrayal of Pakistan… shes actually shown that we have this awful scourge in our society, but that we have ppl who realise this and are trying to help the victims, as well as eradicate this menace by passing relevant laws and getting them implemented. So proud of her! Thank you Sharmeen!


  • Uzma Tahir
    Feb 28, 2012 - 12:45PM

    First of all I would like to congratulate Sharmeen on her success. I however wish if Sermeen could work for these victims selflessly; the way Musarrat Misbah is working with a low profile for the last so many years. We must not use these girls for our own personal motives. What do these girls achieve from this award? Dr. Jawad gets the fame; Shermeen gets the Oscar and a quantum jump in her carrier whereas these girls get nothing but are only used as a tool for achieving the objectives of others. Why couldn’t this be stopped? Government of Pakistan should provide free medical treatment to all such victims. Why should they be left at the mercy of others? Why should they be treated from charity? If the government has failed to provide them adequate protection in the first place, the least they can do is to provide them free medical services and jobs in the government departments.


  • Farooq Bilgrami
    Mar 11, 2012 - 4:31AM

    Uzma Tahir, I congratulate you for achieving the success as Punjab government has acted on your suggestion and these girls will now be treated by the government instead of being treated through charity. You are our hero as what you have done is far better than what Sharmeen has done. I really appreciate your vision and views. Keep up the good work!


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