Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: One of a kind

Published: February 27, 2012
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: Basking in cinematic glory since 2002. PHOTO: REUTERS

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: Basking in cinematic glory since 2002. PHOTO: REUTERS

We highlight some of Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s ventures that have been recognised on the global level for their razor sharp coverage of the plight brewing in the heart of Pakistan.

Terror’s Children

After returning from the US, Obaid-Chinoy noticed that poverty has forced millions of people to send their children to religious schools, which do not inculcate critical thinking and encourage their students to develop a disdain for Western life and ideals and this made her embark on a dangerous journey to track the roots of Talibanisation, reports Obaid-Chinoy produced Terror’s Children with New York Times Television in 2002, and this cross-cultural project got her the Overseas Press Club Award, the American Women and Radio and Television Award and the South Asian Journalist Association Award.

Reinventing the Taliban

When Obaid-Chinoy returned to Karachi after graduating from university in the US, she saw the rise of a fundamentalist political party which exerted strict Islamic laws that were gradually eliminating freedom of expression. Reinventing the Taliban followed the documentarian in her travels throughout Pakistan as she exposes inequity and injustice, particularly in regard to women, according to In 2003, Reinventing the Taliban was awarded the Special Jury Award at the BANFF TV festival in Canada, the CINE Golden Eagle Award and the American Women in Radio and Television award.

Women of the Holy Kingdom

Women of the Holy Kingdom revolved around the silent oppression women residing in the rigid domain of Saudi Arabia face in their daily lives. In this film, Obaid-Chinoy is seen meeting with young women who embrace the Islamic traditions that so many in the West can’t understand and won’t tolerate. The documentary takes you on an eye-opening journey across the vast deserts of Saudi Arabia to show you places and faces of the Saudi monarchy and patriarchy, according to In 2005, Women of the Holy Kingdom won the South Asian Journalist Association Award.

Pakistan: Children of the Taliban

Pakistan: Children of the Taliban explores Taliban recruitment strategies, their effect on youth and their methods to radicalise the country’s young and often dejected populace. The project, which revolved around the lives of children who were brainwashed by the Taliban, earned her an Emmy award in 2010, according to

Saving Face

Saving Face is a documentary that tells the stories of two acid-attack survivors: Zakia and Rukhsana, their attempts to bring their assailants to justice and the charitable work of London-based, Pakistani-born plastic surgeon Dr Mohammad Jawad, who strives to help these women put this horrific act behind them and continue living. In 2012, Obaid-Chinoy became the first Pakistani to be nominated and win an Oscar with this documentary.

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

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Feb 27, 2012 - 10:52PM

    Sharmeen is a woman who dared to take a step forward to save uncounted women in Pakistan.


  • Anum
    Feb 27, 2012 - 11:20PM

    Anyone know where we can watch her documentaries?


  • American Pakistani
    Feb 27, 2012 - 11:43PM

    I love her so much. Such an inspiration!


  • elahi
    Feb 28, 2012 - 1:06AM

    She has made a career out of TRASHING pakistan. All of her movies related to pakistan are AGAINST pakistan. I don’t know why so many people are suddenly starting to like her, when she has done nothing to improve the image of pakistan.


  • Azih
    Feb 28, 2012 - 1:20AM

    I think it’s going to get much wider distribution now that it’s won an Oscar.


  • Ali Syed
    Feb 28, 2012 - 5:24AM


    The problem with people like you is that you are more worried about the “image” of Pakistan, than about Pakistanis. Gradually this image has become a reality because like you insist on covering it up.


  • Ayesha
    Feb 28, 2012 - 7:40AM

    Great job. Proud of you… Her documentaries are not against Pakistan. They are just bringing the harsh realities into light. One needs to first accept that the problem exists only then it can be solved. I wonder how keeping it hidden under a blanket would improve Pakistan’s image.


  • Sadia
    Feb 28, 2012 - 7:43AM

    Mr Elahi, she is a documentary film maker not a PRO. Her job is to show things as they are not to sanitize them for the satisfaction of people like you who not only don’t raise a voice against the evil in our society themselves but also would like everyone else to bury their heads in the sand. If you had ever seen an acid burn victim face to face you would not nay say Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy. Being patriotic does not mean that you can’t be honest about the problems we have. Grow up!

    Ms Chinoy has shown the world that Pakistan is not only a country where terror runs amok its also a country where strong and dedicated women like her choose to live. She is a role model for the young people of this country.She has shown them that honest hard work and dedication can take you to the top in your chosen profession. Many many congratulations.


  • Ahmed
    Feb 28, 2012 - 10:41AM

    Now, I am convinced that us Pakistans are the most short-sighted and superficial people. They view events in such amazing separation. The girl wins an Oscar, great! But wait, what does she win it for? Has any one even bothered viewing the trailing of this documentary short? It’s absolutely repugnant. How has this done Pakistan proud as a nation? We are the people that throw acid on women? A nation of crazies and psychos? I feel ashamed of the fact that this society is so diseased that the jury at the Oscars were so repulsed that even the sheer shock value would have impacted them. Now apart from being a nation of fundamentalists and match-fixers, we are also a nation of acid-throwers. It’s a short-documentary people! It’s not the film-making that they have awarded so much but the grotesque nature of the issue highlighted!
    It’s a personal achievement for her , rather than a national achievement for us.Recommend

  • saleem
    Feb 28, 2012 - 10:44AM

    We should award her the highest honour for highlighting the the systematic crazy-isation of Pakistan.


  • A.Khan
    Feb 28, 2012 - 8:03PM



  • Hamza's khan
    Mar 1, 2012 - 1:03AM

    It IS an achievement and it has and should give us a sense of pride.. And yes we need to face the facts that there are certain crazy people in our society with such atrocious behavior. I don’t see how we could be uplifting our country’s image in the world by hiding these facts under the bed. Or is it that they feel throwing acid on a woman or burning her to death is not atrocious enough?


  • Jonathan Bootland
    Mar 2, 2012 - 2:18AM

    Elahi, who comments above, is typical of a myopic nationalist tendency that is all too frequent today: especially, it seems, in Pakistan. I have news for him: criticism of your own country is not treason. Personally, I suspect his rationale is entirely motivated by the same mysogonism that fuels Islamophobia in the West. In his purview, nothing wrong ever happens in Pakistan: talk about living in ‘Cloud-cuckoo land’!


  • U Khan
    Mar 2, 2012 - 5:13AM

    So another has found yet another way to make it big in the USA by selling the country down the river. Forever will PK’s first international film success be about the lowest of the low, doing despicable things to the most vulnerable. Its not as if its unique to happens unfortunately in many other places (remember the dowry related cooking stove deaths?)
    Buuuutt thats okay, as long as Sharmeen gets her gold star for being a clever good little third worlder.
    There is nothing to see here.Recommend

  • Maarij Saleem Shaikh
    Mar 28, 2012 - 10:36PM

    To Mr Elahi and Mr Ahmed. Would ever go for a treatment for any particular disease unless you know you are a victim of it. I hope this sums up everything..


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