Response to Saving Face

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Taken from http://www.colorlines.com

The Oscar winning documentary Saving Face directed by Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid Chinoi received much appreciation worldwide for their efforts of drawing attention towards acid attacks. The inhumanly treated women and their burnt faces received sympathies worldwide. However, it was criticized in Pakistan’s for showing the evil side of the country.

The documentary depicts several harsh angles of Pakistan including poverty, oppressed women, brutal acid attacks, and male-domination, all that represents Pakistan as a poor third world country. However, in my opinion, it is no way a ‘mis’-representation of our nation. They have chosen the topic perhaps as it is sensitive to touch the hearts and such subjects have high selling power in abroad and that’s what all other film-makers do. Don’t they? But did the film makers here try solely to earn money by depicting their miseries and sorrow? In fact, the miserable background stories were also added just as must as the need was.

If I compare it with Enjoy Poverty, Renzo Martin ends his documentary with disappointment telling the destitute to enjoy their poverty-stricken lives, on the contrary, Chinoi’s work gives strength and confidence to the acid victims to live as a normal human being and a ray of hope that justice is there, you just need to fight for it. It spreads awareness for the victims that there are many organizations working to serve them. It also provides us, as a society, a chance to understand their pain and help them by whatever means we can and treat them as a normal being. It is also an answer to the cruel acid attackers that justice will be served in your cases one day or the other and warns other such people to not try to attempt it as you won’t be spared.

Chinoi’s work managed to save Zakia’s face as the name itself says ‘saving face and not faces’. It was in fact a ‘win-win’ situation in her story as her face was recovered and she got justice from the court because of the new bill in passed for acid attack cases. Although, the documentary began with feelings of depression and anxiety but ended on a positive note that a woman as a sub-altern stood up, spoke up, fought for her right and justice and she won at the end.

The cinematography was so good that it kept me involved throughout. It was shot in a pretty simple manner if I compare it to Bani Abidi’s work which I found interesting yet much dragged and too artistically shot that detached me from her art.

Apart from all above, one thing that I observed in doctor’s role – what should I call it, unnecessarily touching the victims and enjoying those touches? Although he was touched hearing their stories but for what reason, I dont understand, enjoying operating their destroyed faces. I see this through two angles one from a sexual pleasure the doctor was having through them by touching and hugging them over and over and he was able to do it because of the power he possess as a doctor, the power that comes from the knowledge of his field – the power-knowledge relationship.

the guardian

Taken from The Guardian

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