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Sharmeen calls for retrial of old acid attack cases under new laws

For the first time in the history of the Oscars, there were five Pakistanis in attendance. All five of them were dressed in traditional Pakistani attire, and as they walked down the red carpet, the audience at the event wondered to themselves which country these exotic people belonged to.

At a press conference held at local hotel to celebrate her return home, a beaming Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy — with the Oscar in hand — shared the praise her attire had received from famous figures such as Angelina Jolie.

Speaking primarily in Urdu, she told the press that she walked into the event with mixed feelings: though she felt proud for having been nominated for such a prestigious award, she couldn’t help but feel nervous. “Iran receiving an award strengthened my hope that the Oscars were being given based on the quality of work and not foreign connections,” she said.

Chinoy said she was surprised beyond belief when the announcers took her name. “I thought I was speaking to myself until I saw Daniel (the co-director) moving towards the stage; that’s when I realised I had done it.”

She said that, initially, she couldn’t remember a word of the forty-five second speech she had made when receiving the Oscar: it was only when she saw the speech later on television that “she came to know what she had said”.

Chinoy had several stories to tell, tales of glory that she will probably cherish for the rest of her life. “Backstage is the winners’ walk, a small room with over 300 photographers and reporters cluttered together, and when you walk in you can only see camera lights flashing.”

She claimed the Pakistani team was asked the most questions, “People were curious to know how Pakistan would react to this news.”

She was congratulated by a number of Hollywood icons such as Cameron Diaz. “Many came to me and said that they were touched by the subject of the film.”

“In Los Angeles after the Oscars you can enter any party for free, the ticket is the Oscar award, and it is a beautiful feeling,” she said with a laugh.

Chinoy hoped this award would encourage young Pakistani filmmakers to continue working hard, so that they could bring home many more awards.

“If anything, the film talks of hope. It shows how Pakistan can solve its own problems, how it deals with adversity and how empowered women are helping those who cannot help themselves.”

During the film, which took some 15 months to shoot, she went to southern Punjab and Rawalpindi and filmed courageous women dealing with larger-than-life issues.

“If you spend just a day with them you realise how easy life is for us.”

“Saving Face will also be released in Urdu soon,” she added.

APP, PPI add: Sharmeen-Obaid Chinoy called for the retrial of old acid-throwing cases under the new laws. She said the authorities should take stringent action against acid throwers and also regulate the sale of acid in the country.

She also urged the authorities to provide protection to acid victims who identified acid attackers.

She was of the opinion that acid throwing could not be linked with culture or traditions. “This is a mindset,” she added.

Chinoy also announced that an outreach educational campaign, in collaboration with the Acid Survivors Foundation, would be launched in Pakistan.

The Oscar-winning documentary would be used as an educational tool to spread awareness and promote critical conversation about incidents of acid violence.

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