Contrary to urban legend spread by elites in Pakistani media, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is not the first Pakistani to have won an Oscar in the Academy Awards.
Mir Zafar Ali is an award-winning Pakistani movie visual effects specialist and artist. He was Technical Director of the team that won the Oscar award for best visual effects in 2007, for the movie The Golden Compass. He is the first Pakistani to have been connected with an Oscar award-winning venture, for Best Visual Effects.
Oscars 2008 was significant in that a Pakistani managed to work on a film that not only picked up a prestigious Academy Award nomination but also won! The man is Mir Zafar Ali, a visual effects specialist, and the film he worked for was the high-profile flick, The Golden Compass, starring Nicole Kidman and “Bond” man Daniel Craig.
The Golden Compass picked up the award for Best Visual Effects and Mir Zafar Ali the ‘Effects Technical Director’ at Rhythm and Hues, the US-based company that worked on this particular film. Those of us who’ve seen the film do not recall a Pakistani man up onstage picking up the Oscar. And the only reason for that is that only the main four supervisors went and picked up the trophy. Of course, if Mir Zafar Ali was as well neworked as Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, he too would have been invited to the stage.
However, Mir Zafar Ali is actually mentioned in the full credits of the film.
Ali comes from the city of Karachi; he initially studied software engineering in college in Pakistan. He is a graduate of the Beaconhouse School System and FAST Institute in Karachi. Not finding software engineering exciting, he decided to start a career in visual effects and specialised from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, United States.
Anwar, Husna (June 14, 2011). “Home-grown talent: Oscar-winning visual effects artist makes Karachi look so good”. Express Tribune. http://tribune.com.pk/story/188292/home-grown-talent-oscar-winning-visual-effects-artist-makes-karachi-look-so-good/
“A Pakistani wins an Oscar!”. PakVibes. http://www.pakvibes.com/articles/comments.php?id=46_0_1_0_C