On Her Shoulders is a harrowing look into the life of Yazidi refugees and their initially reluctant, but indisputably strong and powerful activist leader, Nadia Murad. ISIS drove the Yazidi from their home. Their men were slaughtered, and their young women were forced into sex slavery. After immeasurable suffering and loss, Murad escaped and began an intense crusade in the name of justice for her people. The film really drives home Murad’s courage while also showing moments of vulnerability. She very much comes off as someone who wishes she had a normal life and didn’t have to constantly appear on television, plea her case to rooms full of politicians, and retell her horrors in interviews time and time again. She does these things out of necessity, but the physical and emotional tolls are evident. This is something no one should have to go through, but as the title states, it’s been put on her shoulders and her resolve and strong will cannot allow her to let her people down. This is her fight, and she is a ferocious fighter.
“The film really drives home Murad’s courage while also showing moments of vulnerability.”
The film is also a tragic look into the attitude and treatment towards refugees around the world. Without getting political, this was a hard watch knowing that I live in a country with a closed-off stance towards helping refugees. We see that these are people suffering and trying to keep it together despite losing their loved ones. Some have no idea if their friends and family are still alive. What if they are? What kind of terrible things are they suffering through? The Yazidi are a people displaced through no fault of their own, and they’re desperate for help. Nadia Murad has become the face of not only their pain, but of their strength, and it’s inspiring to see her go through her trials and tribulations, never faltering and never wavering. She faces setbacks left and right, but she marches through them. She shows an intelligence and spirit that makes her an engaging documentary subject, and there are some great moments of humor that remind the audience that she is just a 23-year old girl despite her extraordinary circumstances.
“Director Alexandria Bombach knows what needs to be said, and she stays on target.”
The film is very focused on driving its point home; we need to be compassionate towards these people because they are like us in more ways than we differ. On Her Shoulders demands its viewers to put themselves in the shoes of the Yazidi people. It forces the audience to look at what’s happening in the world to human beings just like us that are trying to find justice and help after losing every single thing so many of us take for granted. Nadia Murad’s story is told through intimate moments of self-doubt, pain, and ultimate resolve using images and news footage that are woven together perfectly and tightly concentrated, never taking away from the message in exchange for flash and style. Director Alexandria Bombach knows what needs to be said, and she stays on target. This is an important film that will help to spread an idea of empathy to the plight of the Yazidi, and others in similar situations in the Middle East. Nadia Murad is a hero, and her cause deserves the world’s attention.
On Her Shoulders (2018) Directed by: Alexandria Bombach. Starring: Nadia Murad.
9 out of 10