Karachi film-maker always wanted to be a journalist -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Karachi film-maker always wanted to be a journalist

KARACHI: “We began screaming at the top of our voices when Melissa McCarthy started to say `Saving…`,” said Mahjabeen Obaid, recalling the moment when her sister, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy`s film was announced as the winner in the category of documentary short at the Oscars on Monday morning.

The entire family, including three of her four sisters, younger brother, and aunts, was at her mother`s house in Karachi watching the live broadcast amidst nail-biting suspense.

One sister is away at college in the US.

“We`re all so proud of Sharmeen. She does what she`s good at. Also, her acceptance speech was delivered with such poise and grace even though she spoke extempore,” said Ms Obaid. Saving Face

Sharmeen has co-directed with Daniel Junge.

According to Ms Obaid, the family spoke to her sister before the ceremony and later while she was at the governor`s ball following the event. “She was very excited, naturally, but also quite exhausted,” she said. “We have no idea at this point when she`ll be coming home, but it`ll probably be another eight to nine days. She has a round of press conferences to attend, as well as other related events. But you can be sure we`ll all be there at the airport to receive her — she`s a national hero!”

Sharmeen is the eldest of five sisters and an 11-year-old brother. She grew up in Karachi, studying at the Karachi Grammar School and then later at Smith College and Stanford University in the US. Her sister, Ms Obaid, said that their parents had always supported them in pursuing whatever direction they chose in life. “All five of us sisters have studied abroad. Three of us chose to work in our family textile business with our father, who passed away last year. But from the beginning Sharmeen always wanted to be a journalist.”

Even though she acknowledged that her sister`s work and the places it took her to caused her parents some concern, she said they never stood in her way. “Sharmeen`s very hardworking and very brave, and my father saw a lot of himself in her,” she added. Saving Face

Shahbaz Sumar, associate producer of , said he knew the documentary was going to make waves when he began researching the story in early 2010. “Daniel Junge chose the subject very carefully, and we all worked really hard on selecting the right characters for the film,” he explained.

“We had to choose the ones that had the most impact, whose stories carried the most weight. They also had to be women whose surgical procedures would be such that we could film them over the course of a year and a half.”

It was only after they had filmed 20 to 25 acid attack survivors that they settled on the two — Rukhsana and Zakia — who featured in the final cut.

Convincing the women to agree to be filmed was no easy task, and the production team spent many days going back and forth getting to know them and their families. “Their stories were so moving, that we got quite attached to them,” recalled Mr Sumar. “I don`t know how they feel with all the publicity in the media, but this is certainly wonderful for Pakistan.”

Dawn