Director's Cut - Take 3: A Girl in The River - Sharmeen Obaid's Movie Screening
"This is what happens when determined women get together." - Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy
March 26 - Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy has brought two Academy Awards in a span of three years to Pakistan and in the process she has highlighted some very important issues and brought them to the forefront. Chinoy's documentary 'A Girl in The River' is short, simple, and immensely thought provoking. Her second Oscar has come at a time when Pakistani film industry is going through an upsurge and films like Moor and Manto have left a promising impact on the viewers. The Media and Communications Society at IBA intends to bring the best of Pakistani cinema to the students through a series of screenings called Director's Cut. In addition, the screenings also aim to provide a platform to the students to voice their queries and opinions through panel discussions with the directors and filmmakers themselves. Sharing the idea behind the initiative Sudesh Kaneria, Manager Media and Communications Society, says, 'The Director's Cut series was an idea that we executed in the hopes of invoking the love of cinema in the student body of IBA. Everyone loves films but not many think too much about the kind of films they consume nor do they see them as works of art. Hence, these film screenings are conducted in the hopes that the students will begin develop a more complex understanding of the world of cinema.'
Recently screened during the 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the documentary on honor killing won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject. At IBA, the screening was followed by an extensive panel discussion on the issue of honor killing in Pakistan and the documentary itself. Present at the panel was Mr. Asad Faruqi, the cinematographer of the documentary who shared his experience of documenting honor killing. Discussing the problems encountered while making the documentary, Mr. Faruqi explained that it was very hard to find subjects because in almost all cases of honor killing the victims do not survive. The second panelist was Ms. Sarah Zaman, a development professional and human rights activist with diverse experience in women's right programming, research and training. Ms. Zaman has also been involved with Aurat Foundation, Indus Resource Centre (IRC), and War Against Rape (WAR). The third speaker was Mr. Faisal Siddiqi, a practicing lawyer based in Karachi, Pakistan. Mr. Siddiqi is a partner at a litigation law firm and has formerly been an Advisor/Consultant to the Attorney General for Pakistan and a member of the 'Task Force on Enforced Disappearances'. In addition, he is a Board Member of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Karachi, and is in the process of setting up a centre for legal aid for victims of sexual assault and rape in Pakistan. Lastly, the panel also included Mr. Nadir Siddiqi, Director of Photography and Head of Production for Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy Films, and Mr. Husein Qaizar, post production manager and editor for SOC Films.
The moderator for the session, Dr. Morial Shah, Faculty member at IBA, began the session by narrating her own experience of research on Karo Kari, the Sindhi term for honor killing. The discussion, while centered around the crime of honor killing, delved into the laws regarding the crime and its perpetrators and the loopholes within the system. In answer to the question of how we can end women subordination and put an end to such crimes, Ms. Zaman stated that it is very hard to uproot a culture that has been embedded in the society for generations. She further stated, 'I believe men can do more in some ways in ending violence against women than just talking to women and telling them about their rights when they don't have a platform to exercise those rights.'
It was imminent from the questions raised by the audience that the screening, coupled with the panel discussion, had served the purpose of moving its viewers to reflect on the issues of women subordination and honor killing. While sharing her thoughts about the documentary, Maham Aftab, an alumnus from BBA batch of 2015 at IBA, says, 'The subject matter of the documentary left me deeply disturbed, however the artful storytelling without instruction made it truly Oscar-worthy. While remaining compassionate, the story revealed how patriarchal values and policy loopholes encourage violence to be systemically perpetuated, highlighting many areas of redress for future leaders of the country.' Student of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts, Asra Zaidi, says, 'The kind of dissonance we feel in our sheltered lives is shattered by documentaries such as these, which is why more people need to watch this.'