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Sharmeen Chinoy Documentary Maker (born November 12, 1978) is a Pakistani-Canadian journalist, filmmaker, and activist. She is best recognized for her work in documentaries that focus on gender injustice. She won two Academy Awards, seven Emmy Awards, and a Knight International Journalism Award. In 2012, the Pakistani government presented the Hilal-i-Imtiaz upon her, the country’s second-highest civilian honor. She is one of the world’s 100 most influential persons in Time magazine. She is the first female filmmaker to win two Academy Awards before the age of 37. 

After watching Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s powerful film “A girl in the river: The price of forgiveness”, Pakistan’s prime minister has stated that he will reform the rule on honor killing

Background of Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy

Obaid-Chinoy was born to a Gujarati Muslim family in Karachi, Pakistan, on November 12, 1978. Saba Obaid is a social worker, and Sheikh Obaid, her father, was a businessman who died in 2010. Mahjabeen Obaid is her younger sister. 

Obaid-Chinoy went to Karachi Grammar School after attending the Convent of Jesus and Mary. She claimed she was not academically inclined, despite receiving decent grades. She attended Smith College after migrating to the United States for higher education, where she earned a bachelor’s in Economics and Government in 2002. Obaid-Chinoy then earned a master’s degree in communication and international policy studies from Stanford University. 

Successful Career 

Obaid-Chinoy returned to Pakistan in 2002 and began a career as a filmmaker. While a graduate student at Stanford University in 2003 and 2004, she produced two award-winning films. She subsequently began a long relationship with the PBS TV series Frontline World. She first reported “On a Razor’s Edge”  in 2004 and created numerous broadcast stories, online videos, and written “Dispatches” from Pakistan over the next five years. Children of the Taliban, The Lost Generation, Afghanistan Unveiled, 3 Bahadur, Song of Lahore, and the Academy Award-winning Saving Face and A Girl in the River: The Price of  Forgiveness are among her most well-known films. She has won multiple honors for her visual contributions. Including the Academy Award for Best Short Subject Documentary (2012 and 2016). As well as the  Emmy Award for the same category (2010 and 2011). And the One World Media Award for Broadcast Journalist of the Year (2007). Her videos have appeared on PBS, CNN, Discovery Channel, Al Jazeera English, and Channel 4, among other foreign networks. 

Obaid-Chinoy assisted in establishing the Citizens Archive of Pakistan in 2007, whose projects focus on preserving Pakistan’s cultural and social legacy. She works as an Ambassador for Blood Safety. Obaid Chinoy is a TED Fellow and the winner of the Hilal-e-Imtiaz, Pakistan’s second-highest civilian award. Time magazine’s put her on the list of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2012.

An International Reputation

On February 15, 2016, Obaid-Chinoy met with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad to discuss the steps needed to close the legal loopholes that allow perpetrators of honor killings to go free. The first screening of A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness took place at the Prime Minister’s  Secretariat in Islamabad on February 22, 2016. By remarks from Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and prime minister remarks Minister Nawaz Sharif himself about the amendments needed to prevent honor killings in Pakistan. 

The film was exhibited at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City on February 17, 2016, as a  conversation on women and peacekeeping. UN Police Adviser Stefen Feller chaired the event. It drew a packed house, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Bangladesh’s Permanent  Representative Masud Bin Momen. On April 21, 2016, the documentary received the Humanitarian Award at the RiverRun International Film Festival. On May 7, 2016, it received it at the Bentonville Film Festival. 

Chinoy and the Oscars 

At the 88th Academy Awards, she received her second Oscar for A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness on February 28, 2016. It is her second Academy Award as a director and her film company SOC Films’ first. The documentary went on to win an International Emmy Award for Best Documentary later that year. 

Sharmeen Chinoy, the talented documentary maker, spoke at the 47th World Economic Forum in January 2017. She also was the first artist to co-chair the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering. The “Responsive and Responsible Leadership” is from the 17th to the 20th of January 2017, under the theme of “Responsive and Responsible Leadership”. Over  2,500 people from nearly 100 nations attended the conference, which featured over 300 sessions. 

Hilal-e-Imtiaz 

Obaid-Chinoy received Pakistan’s second-highest civilian award, the Hilal-e-Imtiaz, on March 23, 2012, for bringing distinction to Pakistan as a filmmaker. 

Sharmeen ranked 37th among the fifty coolest desis in 2009 on desicub.com. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy released the 5-part series Ho Yaqeen (To Believe). In 2013, SOC Films and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy collaborated on the 13-part series ‘Aghaz-e-Safar’ for Aaj News. It addressed issues impacting average Pakistanis, such as child abuse and marital violence, gun violence, water scarcity, and land. 

SOC Films released the six-part series I Hearted Karachi in 2014. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy directed and produced “The song of Lahore”. Along with Andy Schocken, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 19, 2015, and won the Tribeca Audience Choice Award Runner-Up. Broad Green Pictures purchased the U.S. distribution rights to Song of Lahore in September 2015, announcing the film’s release in select U.S. theatres. The Motion Picture Arts and Sciences academy submitted the film for consideration in the documentary feature category for the 2016 Oscars in October 2015. In December  2015, the film received its Middle Eastern premiere at the 12th Annual Dubai International Film Festival.

Award of the Knight Foundation

The International Center for Journalists presented Obaid-Chinoy with the 2017 Knight International  Journalism Award in November 2017. Chinoy’s efforts to document the human toll of extremism have had a significant impact, as seen by this prize. “At tremendous personal risk, Obaid-Chinoy and al Masri confronted terrorists head-on, going behind the scenes to document untold crimes,” ICFJ President Joyce  Barnathan stated. The ICFJ’s Knight International Journalism Award honors journalists who display a solid dedication to good reporting that improves people’s lives worldwide. Chinoy, whose work and efforts in exposing a loophole in Pakistan’s practice of honor killing resulted in a legal change, is among the 2017 awardees. 

Further Successes

Obaid-Chinoy spoke at TED in Vancouver in 2018 about the impact of mobile cinema, which has been touring Pakistan, screening films for small towns and communities in all provinces—instilling critical thinking in youngsters and providing them with a broader worldview, as well as empowering women

The HBO Sports documentary Student-Athlete. This reveals the struggles NCAA players face while making billions for their colleges. It was announced in June 2018 and will premiere on HBO on October 2, 2018. Obaid-Chinoy and Trish Dalton’s directed feature-length presentation was produced by LeBron James, Maverick Carter’s SpringHill Entertainment, and Steve Stoute’s United Masters. 

Her most recent animated mini-series is ‘Stories for Children’. It is about inspiring personalities in Pakistan and focuses on the relationships between local heroes and their parents. Obaid-Chinoy serves as Norway’s honorary consul general in Karachi, Pakistan. 

Ms.Marvel 

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy will co-direct the Ms. Marvel series for Disney+ with Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah, and Meera Menon in September 2020, bringing Marvel Studios’ first Muslim hero to the big screen. As a result of this opportunity, she will be the first Pakistani director to work with Marvel. 

Authored by Afifa Maryam Siddiqui 

Edited by Yara Fakhoury

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