On Her Shoulders

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USA | 2018 | 94 minutes | Alexandria Bombach

This empowering documentary presents 23-year-old Nadia Murad, a Yazidi genocide survivor determined to tell the world her story. Determined advocate and reluctant celebrity, she becomes the voice of her people and their best hope to spur the world to action. 

"Enormous credit goes to Bombach for making a film that recognizes what it means when your dreams for a normal future are vaporized, rather than one that pruriently seeks details of the trauma." Jay Weissburg - Variety

Alexandria Bombach gives audiences a rare and honest glimpse of what it means to be the public face of a community's tragedy in the documentary On Her Shoulders. Nadia Murad's village, Kocho, located in northern Iraq and composed primarily of a religious minority known as Yazidis, was raided by ISIS in 2014. Over 700 villagers were slaughtered with just 15 survivors remaining—Nadiais one of those survivors. This documentary follows Nadia and her attempts to raise awareness of the massacre while also showcasing the emotional burden of this particular kind of fame. Nadia is intelligent, self-aware, and eloquent when she speaks—and yet, as a public figure, she also understands the masks she must wear in order to campaign for her cause, a role that causes her some discomfort: she sighs when the cameras on her are turned off; her eyes turn grim when journalists praise her for her strength; and her lips press faintly together whenever audiences express their sympathies. Bombach does a tremendous job of showing Nadia as someone who has endured indescribable horrors, yet she never depicts Nadia as a martyr, choosing instead to show her as an honest, strong-willed individual. On Her Shoulders is worth watching not just for its humane depiction of its heroine, but also for its relevancy within the world today.

Director Biography
Alexandria Bombach founded the video production company Red Reel in 2009, where she produced her first documentary feature Frame by Frame. Bombach has been living nomadically since 2010, traversing in the Australian Outback or spending time in Kabul, Afghanistan. In 2016, she directed the Pulitzer Center-supported New York Times Op-Doc, Afghanistan by Choice. Her latest film, On Her Shoulders premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, where Bombach won Best Directing in the US DOC Competition.

Sponsored by KCTS 9, Sponsor-A-Film: Mary Rainwater

  • Director: Alexandria Bombach
  • Principal Cast: Nadia Murad
  • Premiere Status: Seattle
  • Country: USA
  • Year: 2018
  • Running Time: 94 minutes
  • Producer: Brock Williams, Hayley Pappas
  • Screenplay: Alexandria Bombach
  • Cinematographers: Alexandria Bombach
  • Editors: Alexandria Bombach
  • Music: Patrick Jonsson
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Awards: Sundance Film Festival 2018 (Directing Award: U.S. Documentary)
  • Filmography: Frame By Frame (2015)
  • Language: English
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • Format: DCP
  • US Distributor: Oscilloscope Laboratories
  • International Sales: Cinephil