Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy made history in 2015 as the only Pakistani to win not one but two Academy Awards for her documentary ‘A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness’, which followed the trails of an 18-year-old survivor of honour killing. Her first was awarded in 2012 for ‘Saving Face’, a documentary short that followed the victims of acid attacks. Born and raised in Karachi, Obaid-Chinoy moved to the US for higher studies at Smith College and later, Stanford University. The highly proficient professors on top of other diverse opportunities present there facilitated Obaid-Chinoy in her strides further along the art of telling stories. Despite being involved with investigative journalism in the last two decades, she still finds her true calling in documenting all troubling issues usually swept under the carpet. “Stories that have been neglected or voices that are unable to tell their own story resonate with me. In my career, I have focused on human rights, women’s rights, the plight of children in war-torn areas! I used my documentaries as a way to give these voices a face.” The scintillating filmmaker wishes to “keep making documentaries because it continues to give these marginalised communities a means of expression”. Her resolve in sparking discourses on such pernicious issues stands tall even in the face of all impediments her conservative settings usually pose. “At certain times, being a woman has served as a hurdle in getting access or being able to move freely as a journalist. For example, my film, ‘Women of the Holy Kingdom’ was supposed to be about the women’s movement in Saudi Arabia, (however it also spoke just) as much about our experience as female filmmakers in the country.” Nonetheless, being a woman has also benefitted her while working in field, at times. “I have also been able to work in communities that observe strict division based on gender, as I am able to speak with and film women. Being a native Pakistani also has a large role in making people comfortable – it is important for your character to trust you with their story.” For someone who has brought to light such a great number of societal depravities, Obaid-Chinoy’s love for her country remains undeterred: “I choose to live and work in Pakistan and believe very strongly that it is the country where I can have the maximum impact. I have seen war up close in Afghanistan and East Timor and swat and war looks the same everywhere. As does poverty and gender discrimination – honour killing for instance is simply not an isolated case in India or Pakistan, it occurs in countries such as the United States, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, France and Germany to name a few. The social problems we face are not isolated, they are global.” Her continual drive to celebrate all resilient Pakistani women set forth another immaculate production ‘Dream Big Pakistan’. In the featured interviews, she focused on the commitment and dedication of two female Olympians, Minhal Sohail and Lianna Swan. Obaid-Chinoy describes her endeavour as emulation of “all rare finds that resonated with me – our society needs to take a look at Saba and ask why (honour killings still) happen in 2016. While with Minhal and Lianna, they need to see that when given the opportunity, women are able to rise to amazing heights.” The fact that Obaid-Chinoy cherishes her recent nomination for the Sabeen Mahmud Award for courage far more than all her previous esteemed honours says a lot about her absolute determination to empower those in need. She often identifies herself as a “story-teller” that fashions pitches across various genres. From societal shorts to animated features, the filmmaker keeps on adding feathers to her already prestigious hat. Her most recent film, “Song of Lahore” preserves the journey “of a group of jazz musicians from Lahore to Jazz at Lincoln Centre in New York in pursuit of their true calling.” She paints their quest to record music against all odds in vivid hues of culture and politics and asserts, “As our cameras filmed (the troupe) performing at a sold-out concert with Wynton Marsalis, I thought back to my grandfather’s stories of our musical past and knew that I had managed to experience some of those moments that night.” Interestingly, despite all the backlash, her most successful films have been those exploring the issues faced by women. “I fear that a healthy and necessary conversation about gender often gets swallowed by what is often posed as ‘more important and more pressing matters’.” However, she aspires to continue initiating such conversations that make people uncomfortable.