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88th Oscars Backstage Interview Transcript: Documentary (Short Subject)

CATEGORY: Documentary (Short Subject)
SPEECH BY: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy



Q. This is your second time around. 

A. Yes.  


Q. Two questions:  How is it the second time around?  And you continue to do films that change the lives of people, in this case, women.  How important is that?  And could you share with us backstage what you said onstage about how they are actually changing laws now as a result of your film?  

A. Well, you know, the second time around, I was honestly a dark horse; so I was kind of not expecting this at all.  But the power of being nominated for an Academy Award really does mean for a country like Pakistan that you can change laws.  And the Prime Minister of Pakistan earlier this week on Monday, in fact, had me come to the Prime Minister's office, screened the film.  Parliamentary and legislators were there.  They are re‑drafting the law.  My film deals with forgiveness and how the law is manipulated, and now they're going to change that.

Q. Hi.  Congratulations.  

A. Thank you.

Q. Kumail Nanjiani, who is a comedian in L.A., says congratulations.  And he says he went to grammar school with you.  

A. He did.

Q. Okay.  So he said congratulations.  My question is, what's next for you project‑wise?  

A. I'm actually going into animation, because it's so much calmer than doing documentary films.  That's what I am going to be working on now, an animated short.


Q. I was wondering if yesterday or today you had a chance to speak with Saba, and what is she saying right now? 

A. Well, I am going to go back and speak to Saba now.  But I spoke to her a few days ago, and she's obviously very excited by it.  She somehow thinks that we are winning the World Cup, which apparently we have now.  And, you know, I think for her, she wanted her story told, and the impact of her story is tremendous, because it is going to change lives, and it's going to save lives, and there can be no greater reward than that.


Q. So I'd like to address how there's such a strong representative in the short film category of female filmmakers, and why you think this is the case, and if and how there could be a change to that to go farther on the board? 

A. Well, I mean, the entry into a short category is much lower.  I mean, we have much more opportunities as women the kind of grants that we can apply, the kind of channels that approach us, the kind of people that we can raise money from.  And, you know, females gravitate to something that they know that they can accomplish.  And in this field, it's always been such that in the short category, you have a diversity of women, not only in the documentary, but also in the live action.  And I think that, you know, that the only ‑‑ it can only get translated into bigger feature films as studios give us a chance and if big funders give us a chance.  I mean, I'm hoping now to go on, and I worked on a couple of features, and I'm hoping now to work on another big feature in the next couple of years.  

Thank you.


Q. Splitting your time between Canada, Pakistan, and other places around the world, how would you say spending time in societies that can be quite contrasting at times, how has that informed your filmmaking particularly with an eye on Canada?  

A. Well, you know, when you live in a country like Canada, you begin to realize how right things can be.  And then when you travel back to Pakistan and to other countries which are in conflict, you can see what's going wrong.  And I think it's important to see what the human ‑‑ what human beings are capable of.  I mean, Canada has a stellar record in human rights.  It's got so much that I learn from.  And I think going back and forth between Canada and Pakistan has taught me that you need to strive to make Pakistan a better country, and people like me who invest in that country, who start difficult conversations, practically risking our lives to do so, that there is a payback and a reward at the end of it.  Thank you.  


Q. Thank you so much and congratulations.  

A. Thank you. 



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