Pakistan Film: Country’s First Oscar Nomination
January 27, 2012
A Pakistani film entitled SAVING FACE about survivors of acid attacks and the work of surgeon Dr. Mohammad Jawad has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary, Short Subject. Karachi-based director/producer Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and US-based director/producer received the nominations on Tuesday.
“Daniel and I are very excited about the nomination and are eager to share the story of Saving Face with the world.”
SAVING FACE follows Dr. Jawad, a London-based reconstructive surgeon as he travels to his home in Pakistan to operate on patients attacked with acid. The film also features the stories of survivors of attacks, particularly two women, Zakia and Rukhsana – both from Punjab province – as they struggle to find justice and heal emotionally and physically. The film also features the work of Acid Survivors Foundation of Pakistan (ASF), an Islamabad-based NGO aiding survivors of acid attacks.
“This is a double celebration for Pakistan,” said Jawad of the recognition. “A first for Pakistani filmmaker and moreover highlighting this terrible problem and the work I’ve been fortunate to do with the issue.”
SAVING FACE director/producer Obaid Chinoy has quickly become one of Pakistan’s most decorated filmmakers. Among her other award-winning films, PAKISTAN’S TALIBAN GENERATION won an Emmy Award in 2010.
Also producing the film is veteran Pakistani filmmaker Sabiha Sumar. Sumar brought fame to Pakistan with her debut feature film Khamosh Pani which won 17 international awards including the Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival and Dinner with the President that won the Anasy Best Documentary award.
A host of other Pakistanis also worked on the film including the film’s cameraman – Asad Faruqi, co-producer Fazeelat Aslam, and associate producer Shahbaz Sumar.
In 2008, Mir Zafar Ali, a Pakistani citizen was one of the ‘Effects Technical Director’ on Golden Compass that Best Visual Effects award. But Saving Face is the first film shot in Pakistan and directed by a Pakistani to be nominated for an Oscar.
Acid Survivors of Pakistan has documented over 150 acid attacks annually but assume the numbers are much higher as most crimes go unreported. The majority of victims are women. In 2010, following awareness campaigns from ASF, Pakistan’s Parliament enacted legislation dictating that acid violence is punishable by life imprisionment.
Obaid Chinoy points out that the success of SAVING FACE is due to its demonstration of Pakistanis successfully tackling this vexing Pakistani problem.
“This is more than an expose,” said Obaid Chinoy. “This is a film demonstrating the bravery of Pakistanis confronting this problem, including the survivors themselves, with surprisingly hopeful results.”
“Acid violence is the worst form of violence that can be inflicted to any human being,” said Valerie Khan, Chairperson Acid Survivors Foundation, “We along with other numerous volunteers are committed to empowering the victims -mostly women and children- who, once turned into proactive autonomous survivors and democratic citizens, will join the momentum to ensure that acid violence is eradicated in Pakistan and that justice prevails.”
The Academy Awards are on February 26th and SAVING FACE will screen after them at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London. The film was funded by HBO and UK Channel 4, who will be airing the film, respectively, in the US and UK. No Pakistani broadcast has been committed at this time.
A portion of proceeds from the film are going to Acid Survivors Foundation, Islamic Help and the primary subjects of the film.
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy (firstname.lastname@example.org)