KARACHI: Directors for the Oscar-winning documentary Saving Face responded, on Thursday, to claims made by acid-attack survivors over the airing of the film in Pakistan and its repercussions on the victims featured in it.
Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Daniel Junge, who co-directed the film featuring victims of acid attacks, refuted an earlier report, saying they never “promised not to show the film in Pakistan.”
“All subjects were informed of our intention to release the film globally, including Pakistan, and all subjects signed a release to this effect,” the directors said in a statement released to the media late Thursday.
The Acid Survivors Foundation Pakistan (ASF), which had cooperated on the film, has now sent legal notices to Obaid-Chinoy and Junge.
The filmmakers, however, said that the victims signed a release in the presence of ASF officials and the contents of the release were fully explained.
“We had no idea it would be a hit and win an Oscar. It’s completely wrong. We never allowed them to show this film in Pakistan,” Naila Farhat, 22, who features fleetingly in the documentary, said in an earlier report.
“We also got signatures of a similar release in Urdu from Ms Naila Farhat who appears in our film for less than 30 seconds and is unidentified on screen. The document was fully explained to her as well despite her remaining unidentified,” the directors’ statement adds.
While there were no direct allegations of promised monetary compensation being not being provided by the filmmakers, ASF were reportedly under the impression that profits from screenings in Pakistan would go to Zakia and Rukhsana
Obaid-Chinoy and Junge have also denied any such promises.
“At no point did we ever make any financial commitments to the subjects and the releases signed with each subject state this explicitly.”
The filmmakers say they have not made any ‘profit’ from the film. However, they claim to have raised money from donors at international screenings “to assist the two principal subjects with legal cases and housing which has already been accepted by Ms Zakia.”
“We have also from the outset offered to give all proceeds from Pakistan broadcasts to the subjects and organisations working on this issue so we have no financial stake in whether it airs in Pakistan.”
The co-directors have warned against alleged financial misappropriation, which, they say, could lead to legal action.
Release and broadcast of the film in Pakistan has not been confirmed and the filmmakers say that in light of “ASF’s campaign against the release of the film,” it will be unfortunate if Saving Face is not released in its home country.