Pakistani-Canadian filmmaker hopes for second Oscar on Sunday

TORONTO -- Earning an Oscar nomination is thrilling for any filmmaker.

But when you're a documentary filmmaker known for championing human rights, it also becomes a powerful political tool.

See Full Article

Such is the case for Pakistani-Canadian filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who competes for her second Oscar on Sunday in the short doc category for "A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness."

The film examines the case of an 18-year-old Pakistani girl who survived a brutal attack by her father and uncle bent on an "honour killing."

Obaid-Chinoy says the Oscar nomination has sparked discussion around religiously motivated murders.

"There's a national discourse that has started in Pakistan about honour killings and it's in all the newspapers and everyone's talking about it," says Obaid-Chinoy, whose Karachi-based company SOC Film specializes in investigative and socially motivated content.

"I think that that's a win in itself because it's such a difficult topic and people shy away from it, normally."

Obaid-Chinoy, whose accolades include a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, a Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum and a state honour from the Pakistani government, says she'd been wanting to make a film about honour killings "for a long time."

"But it transpired that almost always the subjects of the film would be killed, so by the time anyone would hear about an honour killing there'd be no one left to tell the story," she says from Los Angeles.

"One day I was reading the newspaper and I came across these two lines about a young girl who had been shot by her father and her uncle and thrown in a river and she had survived miraculously."

The first time she met Saba, who was attacked for eloping with a poor boy her uncle disapproved of, Obaid-Chinoy was struck by her fortitude.

"For someone who is not very educated -- I mean, she could barely read and write -- she had this wisdom about her that was years ahead of her. And she wanted to tell her story. She was eager to tell her story and you know it's a documentary filmmaker's dream to have a character that shines on camera and she really does shine on camera."

After Saba's attackers were imprisoned, her family and community pressured her to forgive them so the charges could be dropped in accordance with Pakistani law. Obaid-Chinoy says this legal loophole must be closed before real change can happen.

"People actually believe that it is OK to kill a woman in the name of honour. And people routinely get away with it. That mindset was very hard for me to digest," says Obaid-Chinoy, a dual citizen who lived in Toronto from 2004 to 2015.

"I'm also a product of Pakistan, I was born and raised there, I come from a city and it's only the luck of the draw that I am who I am. I could be Saba."

This will be Obaid-Chinoy's second bid for an Academy Award. Her short doc "Saving Face," about brutal acid attacks in Pakistan, won in 2012. She is one of only 11 female directors to have won an Oscar.

"You work your whole entire life so you can be at an event like the Oscars and sometimes take a break so you can appreciate the work you have done," she says.

"I'm a workaholic and I seldom take breaks but I will take a break for Feb. 28 and I will get there and I'm going to walk the red carpet and appreciate the fact that I'm there with some of the best in the world."

She's considered to be the first winner from Pakistan, a country where outspoken women have been gunned down for challenging the status quo.

"One has to be determined about what one is doing and I'm very determined about what I am doing," she says.

"A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness" will air on HBO Canada on March 7.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • 'Wonder Woman' wows at CinemaCon

    Entertainment CTV News
    LAS VEGAS - Wonder Woman is here to save the world, and, possibly the future of Warner Bros. DC Comics universe. New footage featuring actress Gal Gadot's lasso-wielding superhero stole the show Wednesday night at CinemaCon, which also featured some peeks at "Aquaman" and "Justice League. Source
  • Michael Bay in talks to produce El Chapo film

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Blockbuster king Michael Bay is reportedly in talks to produce and direct a film about the drug lord Sean Penn interviewed for Rolling Stone while he was on the run from Mexican authorities Movie bosses at Sony have acquired the rights to Cole Merrell’s upcoming book Hunting El Chapo: The Thrilling Inside Story of The American Lawman Who Captures The World’s Most-Wanted Drug Lord and they are in negotiations with the Transformers director to produce the project. Source
  • George Michael finally laid to rest in private funeral

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    LONDON — Singer George Michael’s publicist says his funeral has been held in London. The private funeral ceremony took place Wednesday at Highgate Cemetery in north London. Michael’s publicity agency, Connie Filippello Publicity, said in a statement it was attended by family and close friends Source
  • Former 'Canada AM' host Marci Ien new co-host of 'The Social'

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    TORONTO — Former “Canada AM” host Marci Ien has officially found a new home on CTV’s “The Social.” On Wednesday’s episode of the daytime talk show, co-host Traci Melchor returned after a long absence and announced she will not be returning as a permanent panellist. Source
  • No cellphones backstage for accountants after Oscars best picture flub

    Entertainment CBC News
    PwC accountants won't be allowed to have their cellphones backstage during future Oscar telecasts. Film academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs sent an email to academy members Wednesday detailing the new protocols for announcing Oscar winners developed after the best-picture flub at last month's Academy Awards. Source
  • Warring Vin Diesel, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, kept separate for 'Fate and the Furious' press tour: Report [Video]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Movie bosses at Universal are reportedly keeping Vin Diesel and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson away from each other for fear their 2016 feud will wreck promotion for the new Fast & Furious movie. Executives will present footage from The Fate of the Furious at CinemaCon in Las Vegas on Wednesday, and Johnson will most noticeably be absent. Source
  • New biography says Angelina Jolie was drug-tested for 'Tomb Raider'

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK - To help shed her early reputation, Angelina Jolie agreed to be drug tested during production of 2001's "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," according to a new book. The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday released an excerpt from an upcoming biography of the former studio head Sherry Lansing, "Leading Lady. Source
  • Watch: First scary trailer for Stephen King's 'It' debuts [Video]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Get ready to hate clowns again. The first trailer for the new big-screen adaptation of Stephen King’s terrifying novel It landed Wednesday and if the brief glimpses we get of Pennywise are any indication, real clowns are going to have a hard time getting birthday party gigs this summer. Source
  • Marci Ien officially announced as co-host of 'The Social'

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Former "Canada AM" host Marci Ien has officially found a new home on CTV's "The Social." On Wednesday's episode of the daytime talk show, co-host Traci Melchor returned after a long absence and announced she will not be returning as a permanent panellist. Source
  • Talent agency Wilhelmina signs Nicki Minaj

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- The Wilhelmina talent and modeling agency has signed Nicki Minaj to its celebrity division. The agency said in a statement Wednesday that it will work to further the six-time American Music Award winner's influence in fashion and beauty. Source