Skip to main site content.
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy accepts the Best Documentary Short Subject award for 'A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness' during the 88th Annual Academy Awards. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Oscar winner

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: “This is what happens when determined women get together”

February 29, 2016

Pakistani-Canadian filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy has won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short for her unflinching look at honor killings in A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness. The film tells the true story of 18-year-old Saba Qaiser from Pakistan, who survived a vicious attack by her father and uncle — who shot her in the head and threw her in the river after she decided to marry a man they did not approve of.

“This is what happens when determined women get together,” Obaid-Chinoy declared triumphantly, on being presented with the award.

It is Obaid-Chinoy’s second Oscar. She previously won a documentary short Academy Award for Saving Face in 2012, about acid attacks.

“This week the Pakistani prime minister has said that he will change the law on honor killing after watching this film,” she told the assembled artists at the 88th Academy Awards in Los Angeles. “That is the power of film.”

The indefatigable documentarian has endured harsh attacks as well as receiving high praise in Pakistan for bringing the issue to international attention. “By and large, the press and what I have seen online has been positive, and the great thing is that the film has done amazing stuff for honor killings — now everyone is talking about it,” she told Women in the World. “I am really positive about what has happened with the film, and the government’s stance on it, and I think it is a good time to be talking about this.”

In a statement released after Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar win, Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif said his government was in the process of legislating to stop such brutal and inhumane acts in the name of honor. (“This is totally against Islam and anyone who does this must be punished and punished very severely,” Sharif had told journalists last week, following a screening of A Girl in the River in Islamabad.)

“Women like Ms. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy are not only a pride for the Pakistani nation, but are also a significant contribution to the society,” he said in the statement on Monday, also congratulating her on winning a second Academy Award.


Pakistan’s PM vows to change laws in effort to ban “honor killings”

Oscar-nominated documentary about “honor killings” exposes filmmaker to witch hunt

Oscar-nominated documentary profiles woman who survived attempted honor killing