People often physically cringe when I tell them the subject of SAVING FACE. Indeed, the subject is worthy of it — the ability of one human being to literally deface another. But I’m quick to point out that our challenge as filmmakers, and hopefully what we’ve accomplished, is to go beyond the horror of these crimes and portray the humanity of the survivors and the steps Pakistanis are taking to tackle this horrific problem. The film must be more than an expose of horrendous crimes — it must be a recipe for addressing the problem and a hope for the future.
Also when I describe the film invariably people will comment on my bravery in making such a film, which makes me uncomfortable. It is my Pakistani partners, and particularly my co-director Sharmeen, who disregard their personal safety to tell urgent stories like this in their home country. Moreover, the bravest collaborators on the project were the women who shared their stories with us. Because of their openness to share, we have a tool to help end this cycle of violence.
SAVING FACE provides insight into the lives of the most oppressed members of Pakistani society. It goes beyond the immediate horrors of acid violence to its prolonged effects. It forces its viewers to empathize with, but also admire the immense strength of the survivors.
As a woman who has never been subjected to gender discrimination in Pakistan, the awareness that such acts occur and are regarded as the norm in segments of Pakistani society deeply affects me. Yet I believe that stimulating thought about such a sensitive issue is the first step in the direction of alleviating it.
The film shows that a healing power exists within the same boundaries. By drawing attention to the remedial effects of the efforts of other Pakistanis, SAVING FACE fosters a feeling of hope and seizing responsibility.