Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s new animated short film Sitara explores the theme of child marriage
Its premiere will be hosted in New York by Gucci and Chime for Change on 10 October on the eve of International Day of the Girl Child
“If you want to show little girls the potential of what they can become, an animation film becomes an important tool," says filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, speaking to Lounge from New York. The Pakistani filmmaker has won two Academy awards and three Emmys for her work that puts the spotlight on women’s issues and human rights.
On 10 October, the eve of International Day of the Girl Child, her animation short film Sitara will be premiered and hosted by Gucci and Chime for Change in New York. It will coincide with the launch of the Italian luxury brand’s initiative, #LetGirlsDream, which focusses on the larger global dialogue of ending child marriages in staunchly patriarchal cultures.
The number of child brides around the world is startling. “In Niger, 76% of girls are married before the age of 18. In Central African Republic it’s 68% , in Chad it’s 67% and Bangladesh is 59%. Globally, 12 million girls are not allowed to fulfill their dreams because they are married off as child brides. It’s 2019 and this is still happening," Chinoy bristles. Her movie, Sitara explores the issue of child marriage through the central character of young Pari. She fosters dreams of becoming a pilot as her father plans her wedding.
Following on the girl power themes of recent animated films such as Frozen and Moana, Sitara would prod audiences to think about issues of gender discrimination and the struggles of young girls in conservative societies.
The filmmaker shares that the movie is intended to encourage children to have a powerful voice, develop critical thinking and motivate them to ask difficult questions in the face of injustice or wrong doing. It will be screened in schools around the world and educational organisations can request to host a screening by siting Letgirlsdream.org.
To further the campaign, Gucci launched a podcast episode earlier this month. It features youth activists in their late teens and early twenties who discuss gender fluidity and intersectional identities with Lindsay Peoples Wagner, the editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue.
Gender fluidity was the talking point of the first issue of Chime Zine that released earlier this year. The second edition will have a spread on child brides and will be published in Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Spanish, alongside English.
Chinoy intends to cheer little girls to dream bigger and aim for positions of power. “When women are denied entry into boards, refused promotions and held back from achieving the highest echelons that they deserve, then they are not at decision-making roles. That’s when men make decisions for women," she says.