‘A Girl in the River’, ‘Amy’ Win Doc Oscars

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy wins Oscar for her short doc A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness


By Pat Mullen

Canadian-Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won her second Oscar last night when A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness scooped the prize for Best Documentary Short Subject. The director previously won in this category for 2012’s Saving Face. (Read the POV feature on Saving Face.) Obaid Chinoy’s powerful film examines violence against women in Pakistan as it chronicles one case in which a young woman, Saba Qiaser, is asked to pardon her family after the leave her for dead in an attempted honour killing. (Read the POV review of A Girl in the River here.)

The director’s acceptance speech was a high point of the ceremony in a night in which Hollywood’s diversity problem was a hot topic. ‘This is what happens when determined women get together,’ Obaid-Chinoy said as she clutched her golden statuette and acknowledged the talents who behind her film and those who helped get it out there. New York Magazine called it a highlight of the night. The Express Tribune agreed.

After leaving the stage, Obaid-Chinoy gave a shout out to the Canadian doc scene. She told CBC, ‘When you live in a country like Canada, you begin to realize how right things can be. Then when you travel back to Pakistan and to other countries which are in conflict, you can see what’s going wrong.’

In the Feature Documentary category, heavy favourite Amy easily walked away with the prize. Director Asif Kapadia and producer James Gay-Reese won Oscars for their box office smash and handsomely assembled archival film about late singer Amy Winehouse and the fame that killed her. For a year defined largely by great music documentaries, Amy was a worthy winner.


Another doc highlight of the night was Lady Gaga’s chilling performance of her song ‘Til it Happens to You’ from The Hunting Ground. The doc examines rape culture on school campuses. Lady Gaga, a survivor of sexual assault herself, gave an emotionally charged rendition of her nominated song, which brought fellow survivors to the stage. Vice President Joe Biden introduced the performance and made a notable stand for action. In one of the night’s bigger upsets though, the song lost to Sam Smith’s ‘The Writings on the Wall’ from the James Bond film Spectre. Watch Lady Gaga’s performance below:


Winners outside the documentary categories included Spotlight for Best Picture, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brie Larson in the Best Actor and Best Actress categories, respectively, for The Revenant and Room, and Mark Rylance and Alicia Vikander in the supporting categories for Bridge of Spies and The Danish Girl.

What were you favourite moments of the night? Here’s what Twitter said: