Alumna and others with Stanford ties win validation for their work on Oscar night

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (Photo credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

On Sunday, Stanford alumna SHARMEEN OBAID-CHINOY took home her second Oscar after winning Best Documentary Short for her film, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness.

But Obaid-Chinoy, an alumna of both the International Policy Studies (‘03) and Communications (‘04) programs at Stanford, won more than a gold statuette and bragging rights.

After watching her documentary, which highlights the controversial and often unspoken issue of honor killings in Pakistan, the country’s prime minister, NAWAZ SHARIF, recently vowed to act against the “despicable” practice.

“That is the power of film,” Obaid-Chinoy said in her Oscar acceptance speech Sunday night. “This is what happens when determined women get together.

The subject of honor killings is not discussed much in Pakistan, mainly because most of the crimes go unreported and the victims remain unknown. The film follows the story of a young woman, SABA QAISER, who was shot by her relatives to redeem their family honor and dumped into a river. She miraculously survived to tell her story.

“The most hopeful thing about this film is that it started a national discourse in Pakistan about honor killings, something we desperately needed to have,” Obaid-Chinoy told Christiane Amanpour on CNN. The prime minister’s announcement doesn’t mean that honor killing will end tomorrow, she explained, but it does mean that the leadership is taking this very seriously and will have laws to counter it.

Obaid-Chinoy has produced more than a dozen documentaries, including Saving Face, a film about acid attacks, which won an Oscar for Best Documentary Short in 2012.

A screening and discussion of her film A Journey of A Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers is scheduled for April 17 at 6:30 p.m. in Building 320. More information is available on the SGS website.


Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Michael Rezendes, left, stands for a photograph with actor Mark Ruffalo, who plays Rezendes in the film "Spotlight," as they attend the Boston area premiere of the film, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, in Brookline, Mass. The film tells the story of how The Boston Globe reported on the clergy sex abuse scandal. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Reporter Michael Rezendes, left, with actor Mark Ruffalo, who plays Rezendes in  “Spotlight.” (Photo credit: Steven Senne/AP)

Also validated on Oscar night was the tenacious work of a team of Boston Globe journalists that was the basis of the film Spotlight, winner of Best Picture. The team included three alumni of the John S. Knight (JSK) Journalism Fellowships. MICHAEL REZENDES (’09), WALTER ROBINSON (’82) and SACHA PFEIFFER (’05) were on the Globe‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning Spotlight team that uncovered child sexual abuse by Catholic Church priests.

“The JSK Fellowships doesn’t take credit for the great work that Robby, Sacha and Mike did on this story, of course,” JAMES BETTINGER, director of the JSK Fellowships program, wrote in a posting on the program’s website. “But we are proud of them. They are emblematic of our fellows and our program, and the film portrays them that way. They are devoted to their work, and to doing it to a high standard. Their humanity shines through in every scene, especially when they are dealing with sexual abuse victims or talking about the toll the story is taking on them.”