Pakistan’s sole Oscar-winner filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and teenage peace activist Malala Yousufzai have been nominated for the first-ever Asia Game Changer Awards announced by the Asia Society — a global organisation highlighting achievements of individuals who excel in various spheres of life.
The awards ceremony will be held on October 16, at the United Nations Complex in New York, where several other prominent figures will also be in attendance.
This is not the first time award-winning filmmaker Obaid-Chinoy or the brave young activist Malala have been internationally honoured.
Obaid-Chinoy shot to fame after her compelling documentary named Saving Face in 2012 and won hard-earned praise on a global level. Co-directed by US-based Daniel Junge, Saving Face narrated the story of a Pakistani plastic surgeon Mohammad Jawad who performs re-constructive surgery on acid attack survivors in Pakistan.
Her first big documentary Children of the Taliban also won the Emmy Award for best documentary in 2010.
Obaid-Chinoy was honoured along with Asia Society’s Asia 21 young leaders, the network has also given vast credit to her work which is based on human rights.
The forum quoted Obaid-Chinoy as saying once “by bringing the voices of the ordinary people faced with extraordinary challenges to television screens around the world, I hope to affect change in one community at a time”.
She recently presented for screening in Karachi a series titled ‘I Heart Karachi’. The series comprises five short documentaries, describing the life of Karachi-based individuals who constantly imperil their lives to serve others.
"Film is a very powerful medium. It allows people to immerse the world of its subjects without having to leave the comfort of their own homes. If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my career, it is that this form of storytelling is enough to bring about change – it forces you to focus on people and issues that you don’t want to confront," Sharmeen told Dawn.
"My films are motivated by a keen interest in highlighting social issues and the fact that I want people to have difficult conversations. The only way we can improve as a nation is if we face our problems and work towards a solution."
Malala stands proud
The Asia Game Changer Awards list includes the 16-year-old Malala Yousufzai as well from Pakistan, who survived a Taliban assassination attempt back in 2012 for her anti-Taliban views.
Malala is also a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and an advocate for girls' education. She has widely campaigned for the educational rights of the marginalised communities on global platforms.
She also had the honour of addressing the United Nations last year, where she fiercely reiterated her stance against extremism and voiced in favour of promotion of educational rights worldwide.
“I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists. I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me I would not shoot him.” The extremists were and they are afraid of books and pens, the power of education. The power of education silenced them. They are afraid of women,” she had said.
Malala was recently in Nigeria to support an international campaign for the release of the teenage students abducted in mid-April by the insurgent group Boko Haram.
Names and contributions of other Nominees
Below are the names and contributions of the other 2014 recipients selected by the Asia Society.
Game Changer of the Year, Jack Ma, Chairman of the Alibaba Group — for history-making business and philanthropy in China.
Shigeru Ban, Founder, Shigeru Ban Architects — for finding beauty, and hope, in the landscapes of disaster.
Madhav Chavan, Co-Founder and CEO of the Pratham Charitable Trust — for bringing the gift of literacy to millions of Indians.
Illac Diaz, Founder, MyShelter Foundation and Liter of Light — for bringing light, literally, to so many lives. Fashion Girls for Humanity — for demonstrating that 'looking good' and 'doing good' can be one and the same.
Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, Minister and Senior Advisor to the Indonesian President — selected for providing a brilliant blueprint for responding to disaster.
Saad Mohseni, Chairman of the MOBY Group — for bringing news, information and entertainment to a barren landscape.
Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO of Acumen — for changing the way the world tackles poverty. Playing for Change — selected for using the power of music to spread a global message of hope.
Pawan Sinha, Professor at the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT — for a truly visionary approach to treating India’s blind.
Zhang Minxuan, Professor at the Shanghai Normal University — for leveling the playing field by providing quality education to millions in China.