How film transforms the way we see the world | Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy


I’m a storyteller, but I’m also a troublemaker. (Laughter) And I have a habit
of asking difficult questions. It started when I was 10 years old, and my mother, who was raising
six children, had no time for them. At 14, fed up with my increasingly
annoying questions, she recommended that I begin writing
for the local English-language newspaper in Pakistan, to put my questions out
to the entire country, she said. (Laughter) At 17, I was an undercover
investigative journalist. I don’t even think my editor knew
just how young I was when I sent in a story
that named and shamed some very powerful people. The men I’d written about
wanted to teach me a lesson. They wanted to shame me and my family. They spray-painted my name
and my family’s name with unspeakable profanities
across our front gate and around our neighborhood. And they felt that my father,
who was a strict man of tradition, would stop me. Instead, my father stood
in front of me and said, “If you speak the truth,
I will stand with you, and so will the world.” And then he got — (Applause) And then he got a group of people together
and they whitewashed the walls. (Laughter) I’ve always wanted my stories
to jolt people, to shake them into having
difficult conversations. And I felt that I would be more effective
if I did something visual. And so at 21, I became
a documentary filmmaker, turning my camera
onto marginalized communities on the front lines in war zones, eventually returning home to Pakistan, where I wanted to document
violence against women. Pakistan is home to 200 million people. And with its low levels of literacy, film can change the way
people perceive issues. An effective storyteller
speaks to our emotions, elicits empathy and compassion, and forces us to look
at things differently. In my country, film had the potential
to go beyond cinema. It could change lives. The issues that I’ve always
wanted to raise — I’ve always wanted to hold up
a mirror to society — they’ve been driven
by my barometer of anger. And my barometer of anger
led me, in 2014, to honor killings. Honor killings take place
in many parts of the world, where men punish women
who transgress rules made by them: women who choose
to marry on their own free will; or women who are looking for a divorce; or women who are suspected
of having illicit relationships. In the rest of the world, honor killings
would be known as murder. I always wanted to tell that story
from the perspective of a survivor. But women do not live to tell their tale and instead end up in unmarked graves. So one morning when
I was reading the newspaper, and I read that a young woman
had miraculously survived after being shot in the face
by her father and her uncle because she chose to marry a man
out of her free will, I knew I had found my storyteller. Saba was determined to send
her father and her uncle to jail, but in the days after
leaving the hospital, pressure mounted on her to forgive. You see, there was a loophole in the law that allowed for victims
to forgive perpetrators, enabling them to avoid jail time. And she was told
that she would be ostracized and her family, her in-laws, they would all be shunned
from the community, because many felt that her father
had been well within his right, given her transgression. She fought on — for months. But on the final day in court, she gave a statement forgiving them. As filmmakers, we were devastated, because this was not the film
that we had set out to make. In hindsight, had she pressed charges,
fought the case and won, hers would have been an exception. When such a strong woman is silenced, what chance did other women have? And we began to think about using our film to change the way people
perceived honor killings, to impact the loophole in the law. And then our film was nominated
for an Academy Award, and honor killings became headline news, and the prime minister,
while sending his congratulations, offered to host the first screening
of the film at his office. Of course, we jumped at the chance, because no prime minister in the history
of the country had ever done so. And at the screening, which was carried live
on national television, he said something that reverberated
throughout the country: “There is no honor
in honor killings,” he said. (Applause) At the Academy Awards in LA, many of the pundits had written us off, but we felt that in order
for the legislative push to continue, we needed that win. And then, my name was announced, and I bounded up the steps in flip-flops,
because I didn’t expect to be onstage. (Laughter) And I accepted the statue,
telling a billion people watching that the prime minister of Pakistan
had pledged to change the law, because, of course, that’s one way
of holding the prime minister accountable. (Laughter) And — (Applause) Back home, the Oscar win
dominated headline news, and more people joined the fray, asking for the loophole
in the law to be closed. And then in October 2016,
after months of campaigning, the loophole was indeed closed. (Applause) And now men who kill women
in the name of honor receive life imprisonment. (Applause) Yet, the very next day, a woman was killed in the name of honor, and then another and another. We had impacted legislation, but that wasn’t enough. We needed to take the film
and its message to the heartland, to small towns and villages
across the country. You see, for me, cinema can play
a very positive role in changing and molding society
in a positive direction. But how would we get to these places? How would we get to
these small towns and villages? We built a mobile cinema, a truck that would roll through
the length and breadth of the country, that would stop
in small towns and villages. We outfitted it with a large screen
that would light up the night sky, and we called it “Look But With Love.” It would give the community
an opportunity to come together and watch films in the evening. We knew we could attract men and children
in the mobile cinema. They would come out and watch. But what about women? In these small, rural communities
that are segregated, how would we get women to come out? We had to work with prevailing
cultural norms in order to do so, and so we built a cinema
inside the cinema, outfitting it with seats and a screen
where women could go inside and watch without fearing or being embarrassed or harassment. We began to introduce everyone to films that opened up their minds
to competing worldviews, encouraging children
to build critical thinking so that they could ask questions. And we expanded our scope
beyond honor killings, talking about income inequality, the environment, talking about ethnic relations,
religious tolerance and compassion. And inside, for women, we showed them films
in which they were heroes, not victims, and we told them how they could navigate
the court system, the police system, educating them about their rights, telling them where they could seek refuge if they were victims of domestic violence, where they could go and get help. We were surprised that we were
welcomed in so many of the places that we went to. Many of the towns had never seen
television or social media, and they were eager
for their children to learn. But there was also pushback and blowback with the ideas that
we were bringing with us. Two members of our mobile
cinema team resigned because of threats from villages. And in one of the villages
that we were screening in, they shut it down and said they didn’t want the women
to know about their rights. But on the flip side, in another village
when a screening was shut down, a plainclothes policeman got up
and ordered it back on, and stood by, protecting our team, telling everyone that it was his duty
to expose the young minds to an alternative worldview
and to this content. He was an ordinary hero. But we’ve come across
so many of these heroes on our journey. In another town, where the men said
that only they could watch and the women had to stay home, a community elder got up, got a group of people together,
had a discussion, and then both men and women
sat down to watch together. We are documenting what we are doing. We talk to people. We adapt. We change the lineup of films. When we show men films that show perpetrators
of violence behind bars, we want to hit home the fact
that if men are violent, there will be repercussions. But we also show films where men
are seen as championing women, because we want to encourage them
to take on those roles. For women, when we show them films
in which they are heads of state or where they are lawyers
and doctors and in leadership positions, we talk to them and encourage them
to step into those roles. We are changing the way
people in these villages interact, and we’re taking our learnings
into other places. Recently, a group contacted us
and wants to take our mobile cinema to Bangladesh and Syria, and we’re sharing our learnings with them. We feel it’s really important to take what we are doing
and spread it across the world. In small towns and villages
across Pakistan, men are changing the way
they interact with women, children are changing
the way they see the world, one village at a time, through cinema. Thank you. (Applause)

87 thoughts on “How film transforms the way we see the world | Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

  1. Whites invented (created) films/movies/etc. It's a part of our Great-White Culture, end of story, period.

    You low IQ anti-White POS's must stop appropriating OUR Great-White Culture!

  2. FILM, like most media, can and is used by both sides.
    Most are what may be right…at least it seems so
    only because of whos' in power and nothing else…
    So a power-base that keeps its' power for decades
    can and often do what is wrong seems right!!!
    and in this, the mass that does not think…joins the wrong side
    for they said nothing…Il's more about moving the mass…
    once the mass is in motion, it's hard to stop,
    the big question is, how do we move the masses and help keep moving along
    and still, have control? …out of control masses is very dangers to all on both sides.
    All of this only works if you can get the masses to engage control…

  3. 12:01 "Children are changing the way they see the world, one village at a time, through cinema." Such an inspiring talk! This is not what I anticipated at all. I'm so greatful passionate leaders like her are exposing the terrible oppression of women through religion, especially in rural communities. Keep up the great work so the next generation might actually have a chance at true equality.

  4. Soy Mexicano, esto serviría en mi país. :'c

    Principalmente en Hidalgo Y CDMX.

    SPAM:
    hablaré de esto en mi canal de Youtube.

  5. Movies, Hollyweird, programs millions. But they're actually say tanic Pèd0 files who work w Google and TED, which is why you see TED pro pëdo-file and gender fluid children videos, posing as intellectual.

  6. How anime is better than movies; it's not realistic enough to skew anyone's world view in a negative way, and does so without hurting the works' creativity.

  7. This stupid girl has a western mission to mislead the western world especially western women coverting to Islam.Pakistani women are much more respected then western women.

  8. We are all visual beings.. Films really leave an image in ur mind that is powerful enough to stay in ur subconscious for a long time! '

  9. When you make a film for the innocent women of Kashmir? Who are being raped by indian soldiers. I am passionate to watch that film. When Malala noble peace winner ll raise voice for Kashnir?

  10. A great talk. Important. We need more thoughtful discourse like this, about paying attention to what is really happening.

  11. I have noticed that film is loaded with actors, actresses and myths. I find most documentaries to be heavily biased at best, and downright misleading or outright lying at worst. Honor killings are tied heavily to honor societies. The family doesn't just decide willy nilly to kill a family member. Rather it is the society that places great social pressure on the family to address the cultural transgression. Such a woman places a great social burden on her family clan through her selfish actions. I obviously don't promote such actions, rather I try to understand why things are the way they are. These types of things only happen in societies that have clans and castes. I don't think life imprisonment would deter people from honor killings. The killer will sacrifice themselves to save their clan.

  12. Why does all our daughters and wives sing songs of adoration to the dark and to the left??? What race are they secretly marketing as superior to everyone through their music?? Should I just lose hope if Im not part of the "dark: and to the left? Whatever demographic that signifies??? Clearly our wives and daughters dont want us. They want the dark, the left . What race does those signify??? RA bloodline?? I see it constantly in these videos.

  13. Plz make another film on an other victim she is a survivor Dr Afia Siddiqui also.
    If you are so brave and truthworthy and play a positive role through cinama.then your thruth will be considered

  14. I thought this was going to be an interesting take on Hollywood satanic propaganda. Instead.. trite nonsense about a so-called "war on women."

  15. This is a fantastic mission. Anything that changes hearts and minds in a positive direction is good. I wish more female activists put their energy into these kinds of projects.

  16. العرب لي جايين لهون
    حطو لايك خليهن يترجمو ويضيعو وقت عتعليق فاضي 😂

  17. You love the truth and spread it, so here is a very simple and very clear: "procreation is the mother of all crimes, and slavery in essence. It is also the mother of suffering and death. Do not hesitate to file a complaint against those who have imposed your existence. "

  18. I love love love her. She is one of my most respected idols and I just wish I could spend even 1 hour to speak to her 121.

  19. Hey documentary is very thought provoking and fantastic. The young woman's story is gut wrenching. Everyone should see it.

  20. You know it's just islam rules, right? If you're going to tolerate it and adhere to it, you'll continue being honor killed, stoned and whatnot.

  21. I couldn't help but feel a sick sort of irony in that westerners, who watch this video with horror at what goes on in other countries, seek to allow this behavior to be exported to the west:

    Minnesota Man Charged With Stepdaughter's "Honor Killing"

    https://www.mystateline.com › news › minnesota-man-charged-with-stepda…
    May 4, 2011 – A Minnesota man is facing charges for the alleged "honor killing" of his stepdaughter.

    Jordanian immigrant gets death for Houston 'honor killings …

    www.startribune.com › jordanian-immigrant-gets-death-for-houston-honor…
    Aug 14, 2018 – Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan was found guilty of capital murder last month in the 2012 fatal shootings of his son-in-law, Coty Beavers, and his daughter's friend, Gelareh Bagherzadeh. The Harris County jury deliberated for just 35 minutes — after five weeks of testimony — before …

    Texas jury convicts immigrant in 'honor killings' case – StarTribune.com

    www.startribune.com › texas-jury-convicts-immigrant-in-honor-killings-case
    Jul 27, 2018 – Texas jury convicts immigrant in 'honor killings' case … husband and an Iranian women's rights activist in what prosecutors described as "honor killings." … Pastor Dan Collison at First Covenant Church in Minneapolis. “I'm not …

  22. Thank you sharmeen.
    You have completely changed my view of watching films. The thing you did is really more inspirational.
    Even I would like to do something about honour killing and one more thing I would like to tell you is that make a film on dowry system in India.

  23. it is bulshit!! they want make everybody like they, we do not it!! we will want save your traditions and religion. we have your rools!!

  24. Mam , please visit someday with your moblie cinima, the areas before gilgit in between bisham to chilas you will see the life of women more volnarable then honour killing.

  25. Need more people in "film" like her, because while she is an amazing example of an artist in film, it is also "film", aka "Hollywood" that's at the root of so many societal problems. It is what influences popular, drug and crime cultures. It is what makes fun of people who maintain a particular set of principals, morals, values, of any stripe.

  26. Of course it does. It's a huge propaganda tool. Aside from that, wtf is up with you guys letting that degenerate creature Lindsay Amer on one of your stages?

  27. This reminds me of the "the girl effect" movement. Very important, and very powerful in a way that people don't necessarily think of as ways to help.

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