Oscar at Pomona: short film winner holds campus Q&A night after the Academy Awards

The night after Saving Face won the Academy Award for best short documentary, the film’s co-director Daniel Junge (center in photo) and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Mohammed Ali Jawad (right), who performed the work featured in the film, visited Pomona College for a screening and to take questions from the audience in the packed Rose Hills Theatre.  

According to the Pomona press release, Saving Face is the story of two survivors of acid attacks in Pakistan, “their battle for justice and their journey of healing. Saving Face follows their personal stories and that of the nation of Pakistan, which is attempting to tackle this vexing social problem.” Co-directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, the movie marks the first Academy Award win for Pakistan, notes the International Herald-Tribune. But on Monday night, that golden Oscar statue was held aloft here at Pomona.

The event was sponsored by Pomona’s departments of media studies and religious studies, along with the Pakistan Arts Council of Asia Pacific Museum (Pasadena).

How did it land at Pomona? Shaila Andrabi, president of the Pakistan Arts Council and spouse of longtime Pomona Economics Professor Tahir Andrabi, has a friend who is a friend Dr. Jawad. Through that connection, she was able to secure a commitment from Jawad, who got Daniel Junge on board. This was all planned, of course, before Saving Face won the Oscar. But even with the filmmakers in great demand, everyone stuck to the plan. “They were there until the very last person left,” notes Andrabi. “He (Junge) let every single person take a picture with him.”

And there were a lot of people, a diverse audience ranging from members of Southern California’s Pakistani-American community to Claremont students and professors. “We had to close the doors at 8 o’ clock and say ‘no more people,’” says Andrabi.

“The discussion was great,” adds Andrabi. “They were both very humble.” Junge even brought along the Oscar statue: “He let everybody hold it.”

If you missed the screening, Andrabi says the 40-minute documentary might surprise you. “It is a very positive message,” she says. “It’s not a weepy kind of film. It’s very uplifting.”

*** In another Pomona-Oscar connection, Nat Faxon, a winner for best adapted screenplay for The Descendants, credits his year at Pomona as a Hamilton College student for helping to establish his Hollywood connections, according to WKTV.com. One of Faxon’s co-winners for that award was Alexander Payne, who previously had won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay (Sideways) with Pomona alumnus Jim Taylor ’84.

Read more on Hollywood and Pomona:
Chinatown at 30 (with Robert Towne ’56)
Pomona’s Hollywood Timeline
The Duke on the Quad

 Photos by Aaran Patel ’15

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