If you wish to be entertained this film is not for you. If you wish to be awoken, educated, challenged, irrevocably moved, altered, inspired. If you think you can look into the mirror that shows humanity as it currently stands and to hear and see the truth, then watch this.
On Her Shoulders, as a title, is a succinct and straightforward way to begin to describe the weight one ordinary young woman was forced to bear on behalf of the Northern Iraqi, Yazidi people, but no words could do this. Nadia Murad wishes she could be known as a hairdresser, make up artist, or an athlete or even a farmer but she says she is known to the world as a victim. She moves through this documentary with a quiet, watchful dignity as she travels from country to country, government to government and to the UN to share the plight of her people at the hands of ISIS via her own bewildering and horrific experience in the hope that those in power may be moved to action.
In August 2014 ISIS came to Nadia’s Northern Iraqi village, dressed in black like the imaginings of the most dread nightmares and the genocide began. Men, boys, the elderly, the young, all executed while girls over the age of 9 were taken hostage and placed in camps to become slaves to the ISIS males. This was the fate for 21 year old Nadia and her younger sisters. She managed to escape to the West via a German program of help but could not bear that her siblings and over 3,000 of her fellow Yazidi women and girls remained in the camps. Kept in unimaginable horror and subjected to torture and rape, many commit suicide as and when the opportunity presents itself. Despite her shame and trauma Nadia resolved to speak her truth to whoever would listen.
The juxtaposition of seeing Nadia’s haunted, heavy prescence next to the twittering first world journalists and politicians highlights the very real and extreme divide between the world’s woefully and willfully oblivious First World and the victims of war and terrorism. They ask sometimes the most painfully insensitive questions such as, ‘What’s it like to be famous, how did you defend yourself, what did they make you do?’ not necessarily from salacious inquiry but seemingly absolute inability to compute the experience of the woman that sits before them. She wishes they would ask her ‘What is the fate of these girls, how young are the girls going through this pain, what must be done so a woman will not be a victim of war, what must be done so Yazidi’s can have their rights?’. We learn there are 60million refugees seeking help today, less than a million of these are Yazidi. The reality is that their issue is not a high priority.
In Nadia’s eyes you see the mountains and landscapes of her once beautiful home now forever and unimaginably altered. They are darkly lit by a single hot flame of hope that someone, somewhere will help. Nadia Murad is not known throughout the world as a victim. She is known as a survivor, an activist and a recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize but she says no matter what the world gives her, to herself she will only be a person of worth when the terrorists are finally brought to justice.Find your cinema and book tickets