Academy Award-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy said on Saturday that the main purpose behind her documentary film, “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”, for which she recently bagged her second Oscar, was to compel Pakistan’s legislators to introduce a law to curb honour killings.
Speaking at a press conference, Chinoy, the only Pakistani to have bagged the Oscar twice, the first for grim documentary on acid attack victims, “Saving Face”, vowed to continue producing works that would help ensure a more just society for Pakistani women.
“It’s only when we start talking on issues in our society that we will be able to solve them,” she said. “Hushing up these problems will not help matters.”
The filmmaker noted that it was very important to have these difficult conversations. “We are not going to make the country a better place if we keep glorifying the good things about it. We must talk about issues that confront the country.”
Chinoy urged the country’s women to step forward to bring an end to the continuous violation of their rights.
She thanked the people of Pakistan for appreciating her Oscar success, but added that the achievement of the purpose for which she had made the film was far more important than her award.
Chinoy lauded the Punjab government for approving women protection bill and hoped that the whole country would take measures against honour killings.
She said her film had managed to start a national discourse in Pakistan on honour killings and the country needed that.
The film, “A Gil in the River”, tackles the prevalence of honour killings in Pakistan, which result in around 1,000 women annually, with the perpetrators being primarily male relatives. It follows the story of 18-year-old Saba Qaiser, a rare survivor who was attacked by her father for getting married without their consent. The two shot her in the head and threw her into the river. Fortunately, Qaiser survived and managed to find her way to help. Despite Qaiser pressing charges against the perpetrators, she was ultimately forced to forgive them due to societal pressures and a law that allows relatives to forgive the honour killing.
In her award acceptance speech, Chinoy had highlighted the role of cinema in bringing about social change. “This is what happens when determined women get together,” she said.
Responding to a question about director Syed Noor’s claim that the film was based on an idea he had come up with, Chinoy clarified that her film was documentary and its concept could not be stolen from a fiction movie.
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