BIFF Main Review – On Her Shoulders

The documentary about Nadia Murad is a strong an important voice.

In 2014 Nadia Murad Basee Taha was kidnapped by ISIS. She was in the end able to flee from them. The time after this she has used to talk about what she went through and what we can do to defeat ISIS. She has become an important voice for her people Yazidi, and those who still are held. If we don’t stand up against them nothing will change. 

The documentary is directed by Alexandra Bombach, and one of her other movies is called Frame by Frame. It depicts how the free press in Afghanistan bloomed after the Taliban regime was eradicated in 2001. She also has a couple of short documentaries on her resume. In On Her Shoulders she has given us a thorough walkthrough of Nadia’s life after she was able to flee. Alexandra tells her story in different ways, that I will look at through this review. It is a well done documentary that needs to be seen.

Who is Nadia?
The documentary is hard to watch, but through it all Nadia stands like a towering figure that never gives up. She has a lot on her shoulders, but it seems like she has unknown amounts of energy. On Her Shoulders covers the years from 2015 to 2017. We follow her journey from the first time she talks to the UN’s security council in 2015 til she is appointed UN Goodwill ambassador.

Throughout the documentary we are witnessing how many times she has to tell her story over and over again. Where she gets the energy for this is perhaps hard to understand. In addition to fighting for herself, she is also fighting for everyone who is captured at ISIS, and her own people, Yazidi. When we see this we understand where she gets her energy from.

During the documentary we see clips where Nadia talks straight to the camera. Just her, a black backdrop and the camera. It’s hard to see her tell the same story straight into the camera, and everyone else who wants to hear it. Sometimes she doesn’t talk at all, and other times we get to hear her thoughts and opinions about the situation she is in. She says she understand why people ask her about her imprisonment and how it was, and how she looks at her own future. What she wants to be asked is about the people who are still held by ISIS, and what we can do to save them.

We also get insight into who Nadia was before she was taken by ISIS. Like everyone else she was a girl who wanted an ordinary life. It’s hard to watch her talk about this. We can see in her face, and the way she talks about it, that she wishes this hadn’t happened to her. We get to hear her dreams and wants for her life. It’s beyond sad that she had to experience what she did. We all want nothing more than this would have been unavoidable.

By her side the whole way is Murad Ismael, an important figure in the documentary and her fight for her own people. He is the executive director for Yazda (a non-profit group that fight for the Yazidi people’s rights), and follows Nadia wherever she goes. Ismael is also placed in front of the camera the same way Nadia was. His talk is also emotional like Nadia.

A strong and good documentary where we get to see the whole of Nadia’s story. How she still fight against ISIS, and for those who is still held by them. She does really take a lot on her shoulders. It’s an important documentary that everybody should see.

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