Saving Pakistan’s face

Saving Pakistan’s face

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy made Oscar history late Sunday, as she became the first Pakistani to win the coveted award for her documentary film Saving Face.

Chinoy’s triumph is, rightly, being celebrated with much vigour and the country’s prime minister has announced the highest civilian award for the filmmaker.

The film, which beat competition in the form of documentaries based on Japan’s deadly tsunami and the Iraq war among others, is the story of acid-attack victims punished by men and are then given reconstructive surgery by a British surgeon. Showing the real ‘face’ of the Pakistani society, where men resort to such heinous crimes, the film touched many a heart.

Back at home, a bill was passed against such acts of violence against women, last month. While the bill has been hailed as a great achievement, it remains to be seen how effective it will be in restricting violence against women.

By going on to win an award on the biggest stage of them all, Obaid has taken a brave step towards making it known that such acts are intolerable.

Will this Oscar win and the subsequent attention on the subject, help bring an end to such barbaric acts?

While it is unfortunate that it took such a humiliating subject to bring Pakistan its first Oscar, is Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar win the biggest moment in the history of Pakistan’s arts and entertainment industry?


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207 Responses to “Saving Pakistan’s face”

  1. Surrayya says:

    I think that what she has done has done her good, it will do little good to the women whom she has tried to ‘help’. It just reinforces the image of Pakistan’s overseas as a bad country for a woman to be born in, that is why she got this award.

    In India women are burnt alive due to lack of dowry, you never see them making an international film on the subject to air their dirty laundry so to speak. Slum dog millionairre was made by an English guy. Do the English show the ugly poverty of their own country before coming to India, do they make films on how they used to eat raisins on leaves because of lack of culinary skills?

    This film will no doubt be celebrated in Pakistan for bringing in the Oscar, it will create a bad taste in the mouths of overseas Pakistanis, just now I was telling an American lady that women in Pakistan or any other Muslim coutnry are not oppressed, men don’t go round with a stick beating them. That is the image created by the media in America.

    On top of that she was wearing a sleeveless top while recieving the award, everyone in America knows that Islam likes modesty, she made herself and her coutnry a joke in the eyes of everyone.
    She will no doubt make a lot of money now that her career has taken off, but that is not the right path.

    • Saleh R says:

      @ Surrayya (February 29, 2012 at 2:01 am)

      It takes a lot of courage to write the way you did. I agree with your analysis … and being a woman’s perspective, makes it all the more realistic.

      While I am happy for Sharmeen, it is well-known that some of the Nobel (peace) prizes, Oscars (for documentaries) are politically motivated.

    • sarmad says:

      Ground realties defy your claim that women are not oppressed in Pakistan and Muslims do not beat their wives.
      On her clothes, were you expecting her to wear a burqa in the name of modesty? Better redefine your criteria as modesty varies from place to place, time to time and mind to mind.

    • AHA says:

      @Surrayya – You probably have not read Charles Dickens.

    • Joshi says:

      Hi Surrayya,
      You response is really sensible.

      To win an oscar, we have to show bad things in our ( India and Pakistan) society.
      We do not deny that we have bad things, but we have good things as well. I am sure showing good things will not please Americans/British.
      Most of Indian movies are rejected due to the fact of presense of songs in those movies, but Slumdog not only had songs, but won oscar for songs as well!. Funny, isn’t it.

  2. Taufiq says:

    There was no need for this of documentary if the laws were properly implement by the so-called corrupt govt and justice were provided to these innocent victims. There was no need for her to bring these injustices to the world platform , if the present currpt govt was capable of honestly dealing with these serious and barbaric issues.

    • sarmad says:

      This issue was there in the past corrupt government before this corrupt government and will remain probably after this corrupt government in the next corrupt government. But there was no law in the past corrupt government but there is a law in this corrupt government.
      We are moving.
      “Things can only get better with each day, each year!!!”

  3. Abroo says:

    I am glad that so far no one has called the election of “Saving Face” by Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy for the Best Documentary – Short by the members of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences as a Hollywood-Zionist conspiracy to defame a great Muslim nation. But, some of my compatriots are not very pleased with accolades being showered upon the talented film maker. To them, any issue related to women in Pakistani society is dirty laundry and it is never worthwhile hanging out such items in the open. Our country is so pure and perfect and god forbids if we expose any of our shortcomings to those evil elements. I have news for you – the whole world knows about us and our problems. Our image is not very good. Women like Ms Obaid-Chinoy and such documentaries play a very important role in changing other people’s perceptions about Pakistan in a positive manner.

  4. Iftikhar Majid Malik says:

    My wife Saira and I are extrmely proud of the fact that Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy brought this heinous act to the forefront and won an Oscar for it. She well deserves it along with the gratitutude of all the Pakistani nation. Both my wife and I got up and clapped our hands in our living room.
    When fathers, brothers, lovers and husbands who are supposed to protect the honor of our daughters, sisters, wives and women, in general, and those men commit such heinous acts then there is someting extrmely wrong with a society like that. On top of that to be thinking of trying to hide the fact that such a horrible crime is committed in a predominently Muslim society is like trying to cover up the sins of Pakistani society.
    The very first step of trying to correct an issue is to admit it. The society should not only severely punish the people who commit such an act, but we should also have their pictures in the news papers and on posters as the people who treat women so badly. In Pakistani society there are many child molesters who should be exposed as well with their pictures and posters in the streets and newspapers. There is no doubt in my mind that Islam teaches better treatment of women and children than that. Well done!

  5. jamal hasan says:

    i donot think in this present govenment any action can be taken . The law has been passed that anyone who will do this barbaric act will be charged with a fine of 5 lac rupess plus with 10 years prisonment but still there is no implementation going on this law . Welfare women has tried thier best to ensure the implementation of this law but still culprits are running free. We all as nation should take it serious and should do strikes for its proper implementation.

  6. Mo Far says:

    We are very happy , that Pakistan won the Oscar via Sharmeen

    Some comments I read on Slum Dog Millioner that they won the oscar to show the Poverty of MUMBAI and they are making money on Povery of India …. what ever
    Please see this as an Entertainment

    Proud on Sharmeen

  7. Mohammad Tariq says:

    First off, hats of to an individual Pakistani Lady, who stepped out of her family life and did a great job by collecting data about a single crime. That is a very bold step from herself in making Pakistan a better place. I would request all Pakistani Fellows, criticizing the great job, to think for a while and ask themselves, “what they are doing in making Pakistan a better place?, let alone the world”.
    May ALLAH give Sharmeen and many others Pakistanis the strength to make the world a better place.

    Don’t expect an individual other will do something for you. Wake Up, Take Action and Decide for yourself and your country.

    • good2rely says:

      To save face of this country….Send Zardari Nawaz & Fazlu to the highest peak and keep the stay there for unlimited time


  8. Tanvir says:

    Congratulations to Ms. Chinoy for exposing the torturous treatment of women in the local cultures of Pakistan. But at the same time we the Pakistanis, the local law enforcement agencies, the provincial governments, and also the federal government, should drop their heads in shame for allowing such treatment of innocent women in Pakistan. The prime minister is there as an opportunist to join in with the award, but people like him have not done much to enforce humanitarian laws and to educate the people and villagers of Pakistan to become more civilized and treat their women fairly. Even the Islamic laws are twisted in this regard to commit crimes against women. One should not need a award to work on these problems. Such problems should be worked on resolved simply to benefit and improve the lives of the people of Pakistan. Take just example of the provision of clean water to ALL the people of Pakistan. Who is really working on it on what schedule? It’s been over sixty years to resolve this problem?

  9. Another Pakistani says:

    Like many other nations in the history of the world that have been behind the rest of the world in achieving civilization, moral values, development, and strong economy by many and many decades (or even centuries), you can see their people getting happy and jumpy by pity little things such as this one. They somehow seem to believe that these pity little things will help them develop their uncivilized, under developed, poor countries. And they tend to forget things that actually develop a nation by means of moral values, justice, truthfulness about themselves and others. Pakistan and its people are an example of one such under developed nation as depicted by the ‘majority’ of comments below… I pray may ALLAH give us all hidayah and wisdom.

    • sarmad says:

      Every long journey starts with a small step. Small here and small from there will make us big. This is a moment of pride and joy. Do not be skeptical.

  10. SAFDAR says:

    I can’t believe people are so excited about this Oscar. This was just an other way to defaming Pakistan. There are lot evil things in our society including acid but we should fight these evils with strict laws and punishing the culprits, not showing the whole World that we have this evil in our society and we are unable to root it out.
    Shame on our prime minister who gets excited on anything being international. He should have done practical things to stop these evil things rather than praising SHarmeen by showing this stuff to the world.

    • SAFDAR says:

      Sorry guys I forgot to mention that I am not living in Pakistan. First of all the people who are living in Pakistan should be made aware of these issues not the rest of World. Well this film is not even shown in Pakistan.
      This film is produced by an American guy with the assistance of Ms Sharmeen. Anyway Pakistanis are aware of every evil thing happening in Pakistan but they are too lazy to get out of their comfort zone and put the pressure on Govt to do something about that.
      This Oscar is nothing to do with these poor victims who have been just used to make money and fame.
      I wish she had made a film about people like Edhi but she is clever enough not to do so because nobody in the west give a damn about anything positive about Pakistan.

      Its time for Pakistanis to stand up to these issues and fix them and stop washing their dirt linen openly just for the sake of Oscar.

      God BLESS Pakistan.

    • Moosa says:

      Excuse me? Are you saying that she did a mistake by unveiling the ugly truth of poverty-stricken areas of Pakistan? I think she has raised awareness amongst a huge crowd of people for the atrocities that our citizens go through everyday. After this movement only, Pakistan has decided to do something about it. Why is it that you people always have to criticize everything? You should be happy that a Pakistani has opened people’s eyes towards helping women of our country instead of being little … and saying that she has ‘defamed’ Pakistan. You guys are clueless when it comes to the feelings of the victim of acid attacks. I am a man myself, so I have no right to even assume what they must feel like. For them, their problem has finally been shed some light on and is it too much to ask for people to open their eyes through showing them what’s wrong with our country?

    • rashidzaidi CA.USA says:

      Why don’t you take sometime out of your life and take care of some of the evils in society.Do you volunteer for any thing which benifits society at large? You don’t. Yet you what to a critic. Stop it, look up at all the volunteer work the Indians do in their cities and villages. Why this example because youseves compare ourselves with them, it never to late to learn from a neigbbor. Acknowledge that Sharmeen has brought at least one major problem into public discussion and perhaps the law recently passed, will be implemented more rigoroursly.

    • mehmoona says:

      well done to Sharmeen !
      to all her critiques iam afraid you all belong to the class of bigots ,who prefer to sweep all the ills of our society under the carpet. and pretend all is well for each and every crime committed not only is the criminal guilty but more so all those who stood silently and let it happen…were there only two guilty people in sialkot,how many slaughtered innocents did it take in swat before we decided to do what was needed and as for bashing Pakistan’s image abroad our president alone can do enough of that..
      to correct our ills we need to first recognise them and then correct them ,it is not right that women should be mutilated and killed, it is not right that innocent children should be used as pawns in disputes and disgraces committed by adults,it is not right for all of us to stand by silently and let it happen…
      so it indeed is right for sharmeen to highlight the suffering of these women and it is indeed right for her efforts to be appreciated

    • sarmad says:

      Hiding and not finding its solution is an option which is no more left as the world became a global village and social media rules. Not hiding and finding a solution is the only option. It is a changing time. We need to enter in the change before it eats us up.

    • nofel says:

      Shame on you for commenting so poorly, unfortunately Pakistan has nothing positive to talk about or be proud of. If someone makes an attempt to bring Pakistan on the map in a positive way that person is looked down upon. If you cant do anything for your nations please dont complain about others who are working tirelessly to change the image of a tarnished nation like Pakistan..

      Please think twice before voicing your opinion if it doesn’t make sense dont COMMENT.. There is nothing right about Pakistan in any way you want to look at it. If something good happens and positive please do celebrate it

  11. sally says:

    I would say the people will be proud when there countyrymen can do something in science and technology , health care and agriculture.
    new advances in these fields will make the country won oscar’s at home where it is needed.

  12. hope for the best…save the poor and the illiterate from the radicals

  13. Most of the people are positive and right thinking. it is the illiterate and the poor who are mostly swayed away by the redicals and they too if shown the documentary will be improved.

  14. baqar hasnain says:

    To mock this documentary for exposing a nation’s sins amounts to nothing less than chiding Susan B. Anthony for her struggle and fight for women’s suffrage or sneering at Rosa Parks for her refusal to accept racial discrimination or condemning any journalist or producer for covering these tragic events in the history of the United States of America. It is not insulting but encouraging to see Pakistanis engage in self scrutiny as a nation.

    • Junaid Maniya says:

      Baqar, When there is a problem inside you home, do you involve your neighbors. A nation should scrutinize themselves, it is a good thing. But it should be done within their boundries. By showing only negative documenteries as such, it creates an opinion that all Pakistanis are like that. Living here in U.S.A you can clearly see what others think about Pakistanis. There is a lot of bad in Pakistan no denying, but alhamdullilah there is good too in Pakistan.

      • Ravi says:

        May be, but the bad is that much more wide spread, visible and impacts every one in the world.

      • AHA says:

        @Junaid – In more developed societies, when there is a problem inside one’s home, most people go to counselors to try to fix the problem, instead of living a life of perpetual anguish, like we do. How we handle our problems has nothing to do with trying to resolve the problems, but more to do with our perceived notion of ‘ghairat’. We all seem to possess highly vulnerable ‘noses’.

  15. Mukhtiar Bhutto says:

    Well done, I do appreciate the work done by you. This is a time to focus on other community issues and corrupt culture. Though I believe most of the women are punished without perfect and sound reason but even in the worst case scenario if it is believed when a man thinks of his lost dignity by that way then there are well defined and well explained ways in civil society and even by the religion to act on. At least some one has dared to work on such sensitive and heart touching issues and hope more will come forward to write or film on other issues around.

  16. Sultan Alvi says:

    Mir Zafar Ali (Urdu:میر ظفر علی) was the first Pakistani to win an Oscar in 2007. Chinoy is second.

    Mir Zafar Ali (Urdu:میر ظفر علی) is an award-winning Pakistani movie visual effects specialist and artist.[1] He played a background role in the team that won the Oscar award for best visual effects in 2007, for the movie The Golden Compass. He is the first Pakistani to have been connected with an Oscar award-winning venture, for Best Visual Effects.[2]

    Ali has worked on visual effects and graphics in many Hollywood movies – including The Day After Tomorrow, X-Men (in which he was primarily in charge of the character Banshee as effects technical director), Stealth, Monster House, The Golden Compass, The Incredible Hulk, The Mummy and Aliens in the Attic. He also played a role in creating the effects of bringing the villain ‘Venom’ to life in the movie Spider-Man 3. He is well regarded for his ability to create water waves.[1]

    Ali comes from the city of Karachi; he initially studied software engineering in college in Pakistan. He is a graduate of the Beaconhouse School System and FAST Institute in Karachi. Not finding software engineering exciting, he decided to start a career in visual effects and specialised from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, United States.[1]

  17. Salman says:

    Wow thats good…we have noble prize now we have Oscar :-)
    who say Pakistan is bad country??????

  18. M A Baig says:

    It is astonishing how people in Pakistan are celebrating this award. Perhaps we, the overseas Pakistanis, see the society of our roots differently from the outside of the box but one thing is for sure – there is nothing here to be proud of. We are embarrassed and ashamed at this whole thing, most of all about those animals who commit these crimes and then get away with it. Please, my fellow Pakistanis, sort out your internal evils within the boundaries of your home with education, justice and enforcement of law NOT by showing people overseas the evils of our society. What good is that going to do and how is this going to help the poor victims.

    • MS says:

      Think positive please

      • Muhammad says:

        Mr. Baig is thinking very positive. I agree with him one hundred percent. Pakistanis in Pakistan need to sort out the country’s tremendous problems and try to solve them. By doing that you will win an internal award. I believe the first step towards that is replacing the whole gang of corrupt present politicians in each party, and change the form of Government from ‘Parliamentry’ to ‘Presidential’, which will take care of many ills.

  19. Ahmed says:

    Sharmeen O Chinoy conferred with academy award!!!!!

    For What? For exagerating and boiling our issues at international level? Just imagine what is the gain? Just winning academy award is not the criteria of praise. Praise is always for “providing solutions” not boiling problems. She made the whole nation naked. Just google the ranking of countries on crime rate (against women as well)! US on top.

    What benefit it will add to the past / future victims of acid throwing?

    Why they dont give nobel peace award to abdul sattar edhi for running the biggest private ambulance service in Pakistan?

    SIMPLE: Mr. Edhi is serving the people of pakistan and this Shareem O is providing evidence on western thoughts against muslims and pakistanis.

  20. Muhammad Khaleeq says:

    Hats off to Sharmeen. A very bold step from a person living in one of the most fearful society. Pakistanis are obsessed with religion and as a result considers women a third class citizen and treat them no different than a sex and a domestic slave. Corrupt judiciary and the law enforcement agencies are afraid of the religious fundamentalists. The only news that comes out from Pakistan is violence, death, murder, suicide bombs, honour killings etc. Someone has to break the shackles of discrimination against women. Only 10% women who are from the educated elite enjoy the rights provided by the concept of humanity. Backward citizens will not wait for long before they start a negative campaign against Sharmeen. May your God protect you. If you want to start a campaign count me in.

  21. Afzal Mahmood says:

    Thank God, we exported a good image of Pakistan and the world received with equal acclaim. Shamreen’s name will go a long way in the history of humanity to contribute to protect wemen from violent hands of men. We not only deliver violence and henious things to the world but we have lot of potential to make the world a safe heaven.

  22. faraz says:

    Good for the lady but there are reservations! Despite the fact that the crime depicted in the documentary in the horrendous, I believe this is just another way of defaming Pakistan, in the hideout of Oscar. This is how it will be taken outside Pakistan:

    Pakistani woman won Oscar!
    Wow, how come?
    She filmed a documentary?
    What kind of documentary?
    On defacing women by throwing acid!
    Oh my God, is this so common in Pakistan?

    • Shahid says:

      Faraz, reality should never be hidden as doing so is a cowardly act. Facing, and exposing ones own foibles takes courage, and in my liberal thinking is a form of jihad.

      • Junaid says:

        Oh boy Shahid, you are so White washed. You have no idea what courage is and this is not one of them. If I sincerely made this documentary for women’s right in Pakistan, I would have never come to the Oscars to receive the award. Think about what I said.

  23. Z. I. Ahmed says:

    First of all Sharmeen deserves congratulations for winning this prestigious award.
    Most unfortunately, the women are being tortured and exploited the world over, in different ways. Sharmeen had played her part by highlighting a social evil in Pakistan. Similarly others, in individual and collective capacities, should play their part with positive approach.
    Let us hope our Government will severely punish those involved in such heinous crimes for affective control.
    Good Luck Sharmeen.

  24. M A Hussain says:

    Isn’t it discouraging for those people in our country who are serving humanity at much wider scale and in much more difficult circumstances with far greater impact on our society but do not publicize their efforts? They remain unsung and perhaps will always be.

  25. Aku says:

    Well done Sharmeen. Happy to see your hard work pay off. As a Pakistani I do feel proud, but at the same time much ashamed to be part of this nation with such problems. Shame on us!
    Let us also not fool ourselves. This heinous crime will not stop simply by making such documentaries. Too few will watch it in the first place, especially those who should. The govt. will give a few awards here and there, and make a few legislation on top of the 100s already existing and never implemented. on Facebook on Facebook