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American Women's Club of Hamburg

On her Shoulders

Alexandria Bombach, USA


In 2014, members of the Muslim ISIS in Iraq invaded the village of Kocho and killed thousands of the residents or captured them for slave trade. All were members of a religious minority called Yazidi. Nadia Murad was 19 at the time. She lost six brothers and her mother; in all 18 family members were either murdered or enslaved. For three months she was tortured, raped, and forced into hard labor. She was one of a few who managed to escape and was accepted into Germany. She dreamed of being a hairdresser with her own salon. Instead, since then, she has travelled the world telling about her experiences. We see her in Canada, in refugee camps in Greece, and, most importantly, in New York, where she speaks to the United Nations Security Council. Film director Alexandria Bombach accompanies her on these trips and films her making speeches. Murad talks about the difficulties of her situation today. She doesn’t go into great detail about imprisonment, being forced to work, succumbing to men or worrying about the fate of her family. She talks of other difficulties which weigh heavily, namely, how hard it is to have been not only a victim, but to have been a witness of these events and then to take on the hard job of sharing these experiences and opening the eyes of the world.

Now 23 years old, she travels the world. She has support in a non-profit organization called Yazda. A member of Yazda is Abid Shamdeen, who accompanies her and translates. Amal Clooney, international lawyer, represents her case, namely bringing action against ISIS for genocide. We watch as Nadia Murad slowly learns English in her presentations; in the end she does revisit her village. ON HER SHOULDERS won best documentary at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. (BT)

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