India and Pakistan just got their share of the Oscar pie

Quartz india
Quartz india

This post has been updated.

Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra wasn’t, after all, the only highlight of Oscar night 2016, for India—or even South Asia. The star of American television show Quantico, of course, did present an award at the 88th Academy Awards.

But that was just the beginning.

At Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel presented an award. Bollywood veteran Saeed Jaffrey, who died last November, was among those remembered at the ceremony.

But South Asia’s biggest moments were the back-to-back announcements for the best documentary short and the best documentary feature.

Four years ago, filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy created history by winning Pakistan’s first Oscar for her 2012 film about acid attacks, Saving Face. On Sunday (Feb. 28), she repeated history, clinching the best documentary short award for her film, A Girl in the River: the Price of Forgiveness.

The 40-minute film portrays the story of a 19-year-old girl Saba Qaiser from Punjab in Pakistan, who was shot in her head and dumped in a river for eloping with her fiance. She somehow escaped—and lived on to tell her story.

“Thank god I have two of them now. This is what happens when determined women get together for Saba, the woman in my film, who remarkably survived an honour killing and shared her story,” Obaid-Chinoy said in her acceptance speech.

“To all brave men out there, and my husband, who push women to go to school and work,” she added.

Soon after Chinoy’s film, the feature-length film Amy was awarded the best documentary feature—translating into an Oscar victory for 44-year-old Indian-origin British director Asif Kapadia.

The documentary captures the life and death of English singer and songwriter Amy Winehouse. “We just wanted to make a film to show the world who she really was,” Kapadia said in his acceptance speech. Last week, Amy won named the best documentary feature at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

Update: A previous version of this post referred to Asif Kapadia as an “Indo-British director”. The description has been updated to “Indian-origin British director”.

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