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One woman’s dreams carry Pakistan to Oscar red carpet

Growing up in a middle-class family in Karachi with five siblings and attending the local grammar school,Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy always dreamt big

Growing up in a middle-class family in Karachi with five siblings and attending the local grammar school,Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy always dreamt big. She convinced her parents to send her to Smith College in Massachusetts and eventually went to Stanford. What she possibly never factored in was an Oscar nomination — Pakistan’s first.

Among a number of greats at Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday,Obaid-Chinoy will walk the red carpet in the hope of the golden knight for her documentary,Saving Face.

The 40-minute short,co-directed by US-based Daniel Junge,chronicles the journeys of survivors of acid violence in Pakistan and the reconstructive surgery of their faces done free of cost by UK-based plastic surgeon,Mohammad Jawad,who regularly travels to Pakistan for the same.

“This nomination is a testament to my belief that one’s background is irrelevant; anyone who strives for excellence will receive acknowledgment for their work. I feel proud to be representing Pakistan on such a prestigious stage. The problem with Pakistan has never been a lack of talent or ideas. We just have never had the right resources or infrastructure to project ourselves.”

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The documentary was filmed in Pakistan’s Saraiki,an area struggling with unemployment coupled with a dismal literacy rate. It is competing against Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin’s The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement and Rebecca Cammissa and Julie Anderson’s God is the Bigger Elvis.

Saving Face began after Junge heard Jawad on BBC discussing his reconstructive work,and contacted him immediately. “I thought he was a great subject for the film. As for Sharmeen,I was familiar with her work. I’ve never had such a great partner on a film…” says Junge.

Obaid-Chinoy has made 13 documentaries,all dealing with conflict situations.

First published on: 24-02-2012 at 05:12:13 am
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