Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy's labor of love: How the Oscar winner united 19 female filmmakers.

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Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy's labor of love: How the Oscar winner united 19 female filmmakers.

Addressing an enthralled audience at an upscale Karachi hotel, the now two-time Oscar-winning filmmaker shared, "This magazine contained statistics that piqued my interest. One noteworthy fact was that between 1963 and 1966, Pakistan produced 65 documentaries that went on to capture more than 20 awards on the global stage."

The creator of "Saving Face," who would later pursue studies and collaborate with some of the most accomplished individuals in her field, expressed, "In 1978, the Pakistan that earned global acclaim was not the one I witnessed. I believe that, many years later, the time has come to establish the foundations of filmmaking in Pakistan and give back to the people. Patakha Pictures is our passion project, aimed at this goal. I must say that the women you're about to meet today are my heroes."

The director of "Ms. Marvel" further emphasized that it was the participants' unwavering will, determination, and passion that empowered them to share the stories they aspired to tell from their respective communities.

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy's recent initiative brought together 19 filmmakers hailing from diverse regions of Sindh and Balochistan. They were provided grants, financial support, and imparted technical skills to bring their stories to a global audience. The audience was treated to glimpses of ten documentaries created by these 19 filmmakers. The films included "The Silence After the Storm," "Karachi Begums," "Niswan-Nama – Women, Theatre, Activism — A Tale from Pakistan," "Nayyar – An Art Story," "Made With Love," "Sculpted," "Defiance," "Pehchaan," "Tum Nahi Chara Gar," "Kawish," and "From Rocks to Gold – Doch The Art of Balochistan." It was evident that the labor of love invested by the participants was characterized by meticulous attention to detail.


"These women have a deep connection to these communities. They reside there, converse in the local language, and intimately understand the issues. There's no storyteller more authentic than someone who is an integral part of the community they aim to spotlight. That's precisely why they possess the level of access they do," Obaid Chinoy remarked, emphasizing the closeness of the filmmakers to their subjects.


Rani Wahidi, whose personal struggles and life journey resonated deeply with the audience, embarked on the path of telling Ishaq Lehri's story. Ishaq, a sculptor from Mastung, faced formidable societal norms and religious objections that deemed sculpting as haram (forbidden). Despite these challenges, Lehri's passion for sculpting remained unwavering. He grappled with defying societal expectations and enduring the disapproval of his own family, especially his brother, who vehemently condemned his work. Ishaq's commitment to his craft led him to encounter both supporters and adversaries on his journey.

Wahidi expressed, "The labels of haram and halal have cast a shadow over our art for too long. I believe it's high time we break free from the 'forbidden' narrative and embrace our culture."

The star power


The event also drew the presence of prominent figures from the Pakistani entertainment industry. Notable personalities such as Samina Ahmed, Ayesha Omar, Momal Sheikh, Iqra Aziz, Hira Tareen, Ali Safina, and Faiza Saleem were among the audience members, offering their applause and admiration to the female filmmakers.

Samina Ahmed shared her thoughts, saying, "You know, I have to mention this: women possess a certain sensitivity that truly shines through in their work. When they step behind the camera, it becomes evident that they are exceptionally attuned to conveying stories in a deeply emotional manner, which was clearly on display tonight. The subjects they've tackled are truly unique. I had goosebumps, and my eyes welled up."

Ayesha Omar chimed in, "I'm absolutely blown away. I am truly in awe of these young women and their creative ideas. The stories they've chosen are nothing short of brilliant. I feel inspired to venture into making a documentary myself!"

Tayyaba Dua

Tayyaba Dua