Yesterday I watched the short documentary, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015), on HBO On Demand.

Right: The Film Poster Left: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy winning the Oscar, for ‘Best Documentary - Short Subject’; at the 88th Annual Academy Awards, 2016!!

Left: The Film Poster
Right: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy winning the Oscar, for Best Documentary – Short Subject; at the 88th Annual Academy Awards, 2016!!

This excellent Documentary Short, by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, won the Oscar for ‘Best Documentary – Short Subject’, earlier this year, at the 88th Annual Academy Awards. This was the second Oscar, for this brilliant Pakistani director. She won an Oscar in 2012, for the short documentary, Saving Face (released in 2012, itself), shared with her co-director, Daniel Junge.

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, is a beautiful, yet tragic tale, about a brave 19 year old girl, who escaped an attempt on her life, from her father and uncle, for marrying against their wishes. And, the state of affairs in the Pakistani judiciary system (specifically in the province of Punjab).

Saba, a 19 year old girl, who secretly wed Qaiser, with the help of his family; as her parents and uncle (father’s brother), were against their union; was taken away by her father and uncle, soon after her marriage, before they could consummate it. On the way, they stopped the car, next to a river; beat her up, and then, tried to shoot her forehead, but mistakenly shot Saba on her face, for she managed to move her head just in time. She lost consciousness, and the culprits assuming they had succeeded in killing her, put her in a bag, and threw her into the river, to drown, and never be found. When she came to, the brave child, swam up, clung to a branch/roots, with a lost sense of direction. Seeing the light of a motorbike, she climbed out, and walked to the nearest gas station. The documentary starts, with her lying in a hospital bed, with a badly scared face. The film chronicles her recovery, whilst shedding light on what happened to her, through numerous interviews, including the two culprits in jail. The father and uncle, so blinded by their faith, have no reservations of their wrong doings.

What’s worse, is how the girl is pressured into forgiving the attempted murderers. Under the Pakistan law, within that province, if the matter happens to be that of an ‘Honour Killing’, as is the case, with the attempt on Saba’s life; if either the relatives (in the case of a death), but in this case the victim herself, can say, that the two men are forgiven, and they’d be released. It’s hard to believe, that today, the 21st century, such practices still exist, even in the remotest area’s, of the world. It’s really depressing, to see, how, the young girl was manipulated into forgiving those two men, making her believe she had no other choice. In her case, it was her lawyer; who too was actually replaced by the village elders, without her knowledge (initially she had an open-minded, intellectual lawyer, by her side, who was ready to fight for justice); who stated she had forgiven the culprits. Thus, the sad state of affairs, that the two men are roaming the streets of Pakistan’s Punjab, scot-free.

Kudos, to Pakistani director (and activist), Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, for bringing out such a masterpiece on malpractice, set in her own homeland; letting the world know, what life might be like, in majority of places, not just Pakistan, but various other third world countries; especially in countries practicing an archaic system of law; that definitely needs to be rejuvenated and renewed.

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015)
My Rating: Excellent!!!!! 10/10!!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
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