March 14, 2003
RECENT GRAD'S ACCLAIMED
FILM TO BE SCREENED AT SMITH
Explores the Lives of Displaced Children in Pakistan
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Editor's note: To arrange an
interview with Obaid, call (413) 585-2190.
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.--When 2002 Smith
College graduate Sharmeen Obaid returned to her hometown of Karachi,
Pakistan, after Sept. 11, she was struck by the massive influx
of refugees who had fled from Afghanistan and the war on terrorism,
who were now highly visible in the city. Obaid's shock at the
growing refugee population led to her decision to produce an
hour-long documentary. "Terror's Children" is her attempt
to show the world "the other face of war and terror, the
one that specifically is that of children."
Now a graduate student at Stanford University, Obaid will present
"Terror's Children" at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 11,
in Smith's Wright Hall Auditorium. The screening and Obaid's
accompanying talk are open to the public at no charge. As a part
of her two-day visit to her alma mater, Obaid will also speak
at Student Research Day on Saturday, April 12. In addition, there
will be an exhibit of how the documentary was made on display
in the Book Arts Gallery, Neilson Library, from March 24 - April
The film, Obaid's first, has caught the attention of critics
and several television channels. Earlier this year, Obaid was
invited to speak at the Television Critics Association meeting
in Los Angeles. The Discovery Times Channel will be the first
to screen the film, on March 25; they describe it as "poignant
stories of the aftermath of war."
Making this film a reality took a lot of effort on the part of
Obaid, who forged ahead with her proposed project in a country
where the majority of people consider women to be second-class
citizens. She spent most of the summer of 2002 interviewing refugee
Afghanis and filming them in the camps, markets and madrassas
(Islamic religious schools) in Karachi.
Although she was harassed for being a woman working outside the
home and had to hire armed guards to protect her while she worked,
Obaid filmed for eight weeks. As she wrote in a background narrative
that accompanied her film proposal, "I saw for myself what
it was like to be a refugee in a third-world country."
Obaid reached this understanding because some of the children
and their families grew to trust her. They talked to her about
their lives in Afghanistan and then in Pakistan, as refugees
living in abject poverty.
Not wanting Western media to focus only on Osama bin Laden and
Al-Qaeda, Obaid stresses that "the world should know that
while the war on terrorism continues, there is an entire generation
of Afghani children growing up in refugee camps and madrassas
in Pakistan who are desperate and frustrated."
She adds, "In 10 to 20 years, if they fall into bad company,
these will be the next generation of terrorists."
In her last year of studies at Smith, Obaid was selected as a
student fellow in the Louise
W. and Edmund J. Kahn Liberal Arts Institute's year-long
research project, "The Anatomy of Exile." Her research
for this project, which focused on the effects of the 1947 British
partitioning of India on Hindu-Muslim relations, provided a sound
foundation for her film endeavor.
The Kahn Institute and New York Times Television both contributed
funding toward the film.