Hot Docs 2018: Our Review of ‘On Her Shoulders’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Hot Docs 2018, Movies by - April 28, 2018
Hot Docs 2018: Our Review of ‘On Her Shoulders’

Hearing Barack Obama’s voice during the first few minutes of Alexandria Bombach’s documentary On Her Shoulders produces some mixed feelings. That is mostly due to the problems that that administration inadvertently caused and those that he tried to solve. The focus here, and thankfully, is more on the problem solving.

The movie’s main subject is one of these fixers, Nadia Murad Basee Taha, who was 23 when the doc started. She is a Yazidi woman who has made it her mission to bring justice against ISIS leaders. Among ISIS’s many heinous crimes involve the displacement, genocide, and rape of the Yazidis.

The film astutely shows the many things she has to do to accomplish her goal. One of these things is to stay and go around the West. We see her pleading to powerful people. She reminds them of what ISIS has done and for them to do something about it.

It involves, again, having to be a refugee in the West when she would rather be home in Iraq. It also involves answering personal questions about what ISIS members have done to her. She’s a living Lucrece who has to reopen her wounds for people with short term memories.

This movie shows that our society still doesn’t have proper ways to talk about sexual assault. This incapability of finding a proper conversation about that topic has a negative affect on sexual assault survivors. Despite of this, Murad marches on, performing her role as an activist in the #MeToo era.

This is also of the many Mideast docs showing those in the diaspora. It also has the perspective of someone who is now far away from the conflicts in that troubled region. Bombach handles all the issues with near perfection, as well as letting a woman finally speak for herself.

On Her Shoulder  premieres at Hot Docs on May 1 at the Isabel Bader Theatre at 6:15 PM. It is also showing at  TIFF Bell Lightbox on May 2nd at 10 AM and May 5th at 4 PM.

  • Release Date: 5/1/2018
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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