Winner of the Oscar for Best Documentary Short in 2012, Saving Face addresses one of Pakistan’s most horrific societal issues— the alarmingly frequent acid attacks on women. The shocking truth is that most of these attacks are being perpetrated by spouses or other close family members. The film follows the lives of acid-attack survivors Zakia and Rukhsana as they attempt to bring their assailants to justice and move on with their lives.
It’s a blunt and forthright film that shows a pair of filmmakers, directors Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Daniel Junge that are not afraid to confront and challenge the people behind these attacks, asking hard questions about the premeditation that goes into them and the apparent disinterest in prosecuting the guilty. There’s also a sympathetic ear and talented hands in the form of plastic surgeon Dr. Mohammad Jawad, who has returned to his home country from the United States to assist them. Jawad acts as the audience’s conscience, as he is as appalled and angry about the situation as the viewer is.
It’s through the preparation for the women’s surgeries that we begin examining the lives of Zakia and Rukhsana and learn about their tragic and desperate circumstances. By the end the audience admires and respects these women for their strength, courage and bravery. Shot with an assured and unwavering hand, Saving Face is a vital documentary on a shocking subject matter that’s important, engrossing, and captivating. (Kirk Haviland)
Sunday, March 2nd, 3:30pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox