You have done us proud, Sharmeen!

From now on she will be looked on as a pioneer that others will be seeking to emulate.


Editorial February 27, 2012

When Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy became the first Pakistani to win an Oscar for her documentary Saving Face, she dedicated her award to all the women of Pakistan for their bravery. But this is a victory that can be enjoyed by the entire country. In the days and months ahead, she will undoubtedly be felicitated for her achievement and may even end up becoming the face of a more liberal and tolerant Pakistan. Hopefully, along with all the joy that accompanies this Oscar win, there will also be some soul-searching and reflection. Saving Face dealt compassionately with the plight of women who are acid victims and, among the kudos given to the film-maker, the strength and courage of these women should not be forgotten. For them to narrate their ordeals on camera with such unflinching honesty makes them, even more so than those who worked on the documentary, the true heroes of Saving Face.

There are those who will bemoan the fact that Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s documentary will further reinforce the Western narrative of Pakistan as a backward country that violates human rights. Many may argue that the media only focuses on negative subjects and portrays the country in a stereotypically depressing fashion. However, it is not her duty as a film-maker to project a sanitised image of the country. When she made Saving Face, she was choosing to concentrate on a subject matter that was dear to her heart and it is not the job of a documentary film-maker to be a propagandist on behalf of her country. Though she was not associated with the local film industry, her win will be a boost for film-makers throughout Pakistan as it shows the talent that is present here. We now know it is possible to receive international attention for quality work. Apart from the honour Ms Obaid-Chinoy has received, she has also had a burden placed on her. Unlike politicians in our country who spend billions to improve Pakistan’s image in the international community, she has done so by her talent and hard work. From now on she will be looked on as a pioneer that others will be seeking to emulate. Everything that we have seen of her shows that this is a person who will handle that responsibility with grace and humility. Congratulations, Sharmeen! This nation is proud of you.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2012.

COMMENTS (16)

Panda Pasha | 9 years ago | Reply

@Pakistan human being is a vile act and must be condemned. This problem and other atrocities are prevalent all over the world. It only hurts to think how badly this portrays Pakistan’s image in the eyes of the world, now that this documentary has grabbed the attention of so many

Why are you so ashamed that your fellow brothers did these vile acts? If you knew about them then what does it say about the silence? That is the image the world has of Pakistan. The fact that this documentary has grabbed the attention is good because many like you are great critics but provide no solutions. If you do not like these acts of violence then be a part of the change so we do not have to spotlight these issues.

G. Din | 9 years ago | Reply

@Pak: "Ugly Face of Pakistan for the whole world to see. Nothing to rejoice about but to hang our heads in shame." Now, that you have been properly shamed, do something about it! Resolve that women around you , your spouse, your sister, your mother, your girl-child shall breathe free as you do yourself!

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