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Sharmeen bats for greater Indo-Pak film, documentary exchange

DAVOS, Jan 22:  Terming art and culture as the best possible bridge between India and Pakistan, award-winning Pakistani documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy has called for greater exchange between the two countries on documentary and fiction film-making and wants to do more work in India.
She also said 70 years since Partition are too long a time to understand that the two countries cannot keep fighting and there is a huge role to be played by art and culture, films and music and sports.
“Sporting diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, film diplomacy, music diplomacy and art diplomacy must never be mistaken with politics and war,” Obaid-Chinoy told PTI in an interview here.
She was in Davos for the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting, where she was one of the co-chairs — the first for someone from the arts segment — of the summit held under the theme of ‘Responsive and Responsible Leadership’.
The 38-year-old Obaid-Chinoy, a journalist-turned- filmmaker who has won two Oscars and several other awards for her documentaries that include films on topics like acid attack on women and honour killing in Pakistan, said these issues are very much relevant in India and the entire South Asia.
Some of her works have even led to new laws in Pakistan to counter violence against women.
“My work always has an agenda — to influence a public policy, start a conversation and push new legislations for good of society and that’s something I have always been involved into, and I hope to remain involved so,” she said.
Asked whether her work managed to influence policies from the beginning or did she find it difficult earlier, she said “My work always had an impact whether it was in terms of getting people to talk about an issue, or getting people think differently about an issue or even getting people angry about an issue.
“So, I think you can influence public policy or the government when you have a body of work that makes them respect you.”
Asked whether she would consider collaborating with Indian filmmakers, Obaid-Chinoy said, “I am mentoring documentary filmmakers in India who are working on a project right now. I am helping them craft the story and whenever they have a question they come to me.
“Mentorship is very important and I will love to mentor more filmmakers. My biggest dream would be to see during my lifetime the two countries who are free, who are able to have cultural exchanges, sporting exchanges and trade exchanges and become the power of a single block. It is very sad thing that the trade is so low between the two countries.”
On some of her most-talked about works being on issues like honour killing and acid attacks being relevant in India as well and whether she would like to work in India, she said she would love to do so.
“All these issues are regional issues and they affect women in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. It is a South Asian issue. I would love to work more in the region. I would love to work in India.
“I have travelled to India many times and every time I show my films there, everybody wants to use those films in the community they work in because we look the same, we talk the same and our issues are exactly the same.”
She further said India has one of the most vibrant film industries, but a very small documentary industry. (AGENCIES)

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