Academy Award and Emmy Award winning documentarian Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy has been described as a filmmaker who “celebrates the strength and resilience of those fighting against seemingly insurmountable odds – and winning.” In her latest film, “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgivess,” which is up for a 2016 Oscar (Best Documentary Short), Sharmeen tells the powerful story of a 19-year-old woman who survived an “honor” killing in Pakistan, where over 1,000 women are murdered every year for being “perceived as having compromised the ‘honor’ of their families.”
Released on October 28, 2015, “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” follows the story of Saba Qaisera, a rare survivor who “fell in love against her family’s wishes and ran off to marry her boyfriend,” only to then be taken by her father and uncle to a riverbank where their plan was “to murder her for her defiance.” After being beaten, held down and shot in the head, her unconscious body was thrown into the river. Miraculously, Saba lived. Now Sharmeen is helping her tell her story to the world through this powerful film.
Told through the lens of a true love story, “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgivess” is a scathing examination of the contradictions between modernism and tradition within Pakistani society. In this masterful work of high risk journalistic storytelling, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy uncovers the complex and violent forces faced by women in Pakistan, as well as clashing interpretations of Islam as relates to human rights and family honor.
In Pakistan, over 1000 women per year who are perceived as having compromised the “honor” of their families are stoned or shot down in cold blood. Tragically, victims who survive these attacks are pressured by community Elders to forgive their aggressors to bring peace and order amongst neighbors, and to absolve the perpetrators of guilt. Human rights groups in Pakistan are currently lobbying for new laws to protect women from honor killings.
Just three days ago, Nicholas Kristof wrote about the film in his New York Times column, “I don’t know whether ‘A Girl in the River’ will win an Oscar in its category, short subject documentary, but it is already making a difference. Citing the film, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan has promised to change the country’s laws so as to crack down on honor killings.”
“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” debuts Monday, March 7 at 9pm (ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.
What You Should Know About Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy is an Academy Award and an Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker. Her most recent work includes documentary features “Song of Lahore” and “A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers”. In the past 15 years, she has made over a dozen multi award winning films in over 10 countries around the world. Her films include “Saving Face”, “Transgenders: Pakistan’s Open Secret” and “Pakistan’s Taliban Generation”. Her work has aired on channels spanning 4 continents including, HBO, CNN, PBS, Channel 4, CBC, Arte, SBS and the Discovery channel.
In 2012, Time Magazine included Sharmeen in their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. In 2013, the Canadian government awarded her a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work in the field of documentary films and the World Economic Forum honored her with a Crystal Award at their annual summit in Davos.