HBO Documentary Review: SAVING FACE

By Jef Dinsmore on Mar 12, 2012 to Documentaries

I was asked to review the latest HBO Documentary Film entitled SAVING FACE.  I had commented that I was not going to miss it because this type of programming can be just as gripping as any fictional work on the channel. Most viewers don’t seem to watch or at least, don’t bother to admit that they watch them. Well, I do and what follows is my brief review of the latest to air.

HBOWatchers might have actually heard of SAVING FACE because it just received, a few weeks ago, the Academy Award for Documentary (Short Subject). It only runs 41 minutes but doesn’t need to run any longer to tell a complete story. The story takes us to the country of Pakistan and its history of horrid crimes against women and girls.  The crimes are acid attacks, usually inflicted by husbands upon spouses who anger or disappoint them enough to mar once beautiful faces.

The person showing us these women is a London, England doctor of Pakistani descent who takes up the case of two victims in the piece. So viewers learn of what happens to the women and how he, a plastic surgeon, plans to help these ladies save their faces as best he can and inadvertently aid them in rebuilding their self-esteem and lives. Just based on that premise alone it is a compelling story.

There is, however, more to the story than just a look at the medical task facing this doctor and his patients. Beyond the story of healing is a story of justice. We first meet the women and hear of their culture and what is expected of them by their Muslim men and learn in both cases how they were attacked with acid, gasoline and flame. But what I did not expect is to hear the other side of the issue. The husbands, in both cases, were interviewed and professed their innocence; one crime was even committed on a public street in front of a courthouse. As if the first part of this story wasn’t enough we see one victim take her attacker, her husband, to court in a courageous battle for justice.  The other victim sees no hope for justice as she still lives in the very room where the attack was committed.

This encapsulated story is truly worthy of its Oscar, a first for Pakistan.  Now, I won’t spoil this documentary’s ending in the hopes that HBOWatchers take the time to see SAVING FACE for themselves. It is a conclusion with some promise of a happy ending for victims.  Come on, it is only 41 minutes of your time.

HBO documentaries do not disappoint.

Has anyone else seen the documentary and would like to give their own opinion? Leave us a comment below with your own thoughts!










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