On Her Shoulders

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

On Her Shoulders
On Her Shoulders.jpg
Directed byAlexandria Bombach
Produced byHayley Pappas
Brock Williams
Music byPatrick Jonsson
CinematographyAlexandria Bombach
Edited byAlexandria Bombach
Production
company
RYOT Films
Release date
Running time
1h 35min
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Arabic

On Her Shoulders is a 2018 American documentary film. It was directed by Alexandria Bombach and produced by Hayley Pappas and Brock Williams under the banner of RYOT Films. The film follows Iraqi Yazidi Kurds human rights activist Nadia Murad on her three-month tour of Berlin, New York, and Canada, as she met with politicians and journalists to alert the world to the massacres and kidnapping going on in her native land. In 2014, at the age of 19, Murad had been kidnapped with hundreds of other women and girls by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and held as a sex slave; she managed to escape. Also appearing in the film are Murad Ismael, Simone Monasebian, Michelle Rempel, Borys Wrzesnewskyj, Ahmed Khudida Burjus, Amal Clooney, Luis Moreno Ocampo, Barack Obama, and Ki-moon Ban.

The film was released on 20 January 2018 at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Documentary Directing Award and the Grand Jury Prize. It received favorable critical reviews.

Background[edit]

In August 2014, Nadia Murad, aged 19, was captured by ISIS in Iraq along with hundreds of other Yezidi men and women.[1][2] She and other young women were taken to Mosul, where they were held as sex slaves.[2] Murad later told Time: "I did not want to kill myself – but I wanted them to kill me".[2] In November 2014, she was able to escape after her captors left a door open, and ran away to safety.[2] After the escape, she was transported to a refugee camp.[2]

Production[edit]

Murad in 2015

Development[edit]

In 2015, film director Alexandria Bombach first heard about Murad, after seeing her UN Security Council speech.[3] She remembers taking notice of the speech, and paying attention to the genocide of Yazidis by ISIS.[3] In July 2016 RYOT Films reached out to Bombach to direct a short film about Murad.[3] Bombach met Murad two weeks later and, after meeting her, wanted to put her in a feature film, saying: "to not only do justice to her story, but we were the only ones with the access that we had and so it felt like a huge responsibility to bring justice to it and bring nuance to the issue and to her story".[3] Bombach had to be careful about what she said to the financial staff at RYOT Films, however, as the film company wanted her to produce a short profile, not a feature film.[4]

Filming[edit]

Bombach began filming Murad in 2016.[5] Principal photography took place in Berlin, New York, and Canada over a period of three months, as the crew followed Murad around on her meetings with politicians and journalists in an effort to alert the world to the massacres and kidnapping going on in her native land.[6][4][7] Bombach said they had no idea what was going to happen day to day.[4]

Bombach said this was the hardest film she had ever made. She added: "It was like losing some humanity myself by not putting the camera down and being able to hug this person".[6] Whilst filming, Bombach recalls, "I had a mic on Nadia for a lot of the time and I was on a long lens, so I was hearing what people were saying to her. Sometimes I wanted to push those people away from her. She never reacted in a way where she seemed frustrated or angry or upset with anyone. She was just so consistently gracious and patient with everyone".[8]

Editing[edit]

Before beginning editing, Bombach received a Skype call from RYOT to confirm that she would be producing a short profile of Murad. According to Bombach, "I lied".[9] She spent the next six weeks editing the film in her parents' garage in Santa Fe, New Mexico.[9] She hired translators to join the editing crew who were familiar with Murad's native language of Kurdish Kurmanji,[4] and worked together with her assistant editor, Michael Bucuzzo, a transcriber, Frank Quatrone, and two translators.[9]

After finishing the editing of the 95-minute film, Bombach called Bryn Mooser, CEO of RYOT Films; she recalls being terrified to confess that she had made a feature film.[9] The phone call lasted about an hour, and in the end Mooser said yes to a feature film.[9] After receiving the CEO's approval, the editing group did not send the film to the spring film festivals so they could spend more time polishing the editing.[9]

Cast[edit]

Release[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 96% based on 52 reviews, and an average rating of 7.86/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "On Her Shoulders traces one woman's incredible journey to offer an inside look at modern political advocacy – and a challenge to viewers yearning to effect their own change."[10] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 84 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating "Universal acclaim".[11]

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian wrote: "Alexandria Bombach's arresting documentary raises a significant question: has our compassion on international human rights become Malala-ised?".[12] Nell Minow of the RogerEbert.com wrote: "Director Alexandria Bombach understands that there are two stories here. First there is the inspiring story of a young woman who had no ambitions of becoming a world figure but who overcame unthinkable loss and trauma by devoting herself to helping others".[13] David Ehrlich of the IndieWire wrote: "In a film that often loses narrative thrust as it acquires emotional intensity, these moments have a way of restoring some kind of balance to Bombach's doc, which – like its star – is uncomfortably wedged between freedom and despair, sincerity, and performance. That isn't to say that Murad's testimony is inauthentic."[14]

Pat Mullen of P.O.V. said in his negative review: "The doc has no meat beyond the portrait of its subject and the cause for which she is 'the face'. The subject deserves one's attention, so disapproval of the film feels like dismissal of her story".[15] Nigel Andrews of Financial Times wrote: "On Her Shoulders is close to being awful. Documentarist Alexandria Bombach trails after Nadia Murad, the Nobel-honoured Yazidi-Iraqi spokesperson for human rights who was kidnapped and raped by Isis, along with dozens, even hundreds of her compatriots."[16]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s).
2018 SXSW Film Festival Chicken & Egg Award – Documentary Alexandria Bombach Won [17]
Warsaw International Film Festival Discoveries Section Nominated [18]
Reykjavík International Film Festival Best Documentary Nominated [19]
National Board of Review Freedom of Expression Award On Her Shoulders Won [20]
Nashville Film Festival Best Documentary Feature Alexandria Bombach Nominated [21]
Jerusalem Film Festival Best Documentary Nominated [22]
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival Docs for Schools Award Won [23]
Audience Award Nominated
Hollywood Music in Media Awards Best Original Score – Documentary Patrick Jonsson Nominated [24]
Heartland Film Festival Grand Prize – Documentary Feature Alexandria Bombach Won [25]
Hamburg Film Festival Political Film Award Won [26]
Sundance Film Festival Documentary Directing Award Won [27]
Grand Jury Prize Won
Dokufest International Documentary and Short Film Festival Human Rights Award – Special Mention Won [28]
Human Rights Award – Human Rights Dox Nominated
Dallas International Film Festival Grand Jury Prize – Documentary Feature Nominated [29]
Cleveland International Film Festival Greg Gund Memorial Standing Up Award Nominated [30]
Camden International Film Festival Best Documentary Feature Won [31]
Biografilm Festival Best Film Unipol Award – International Competition Nominated [32]
2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards Best Documentary Alexandria Bombach
Hayley Pappas
Brock Williams
Nominated [33]
Truer Than Fiction Award Alexandria Bombach Nominated
Documentary Edge Festival Best International Feature – Honourable Mention Won [34]
Cinema Eye Honors The Unforgettables Nadia Murad Won [35]
Cinema Eye Audience Choice Prize Alexandria Bombach Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Appointment Ceremony of Ms. Nadia Murad Basee Taha As UNODC Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking on the Occasion of the International Day of Peace". United Nations Web TV. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e Alter, Charlotte (20 December 2015). "A Yezidi Woman Who Escaped ISIS Slavery Tells Her Story". Time. Archived from the original on 2 July 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Filmcourage (16 October 2018). "How To Become A Filmmaker by ON HER SHOULDERS Alexandria Bombach". Film Courage. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d "Interview: Alexandria Bombach on the Weight of Making 'On Her Shoulders'". The Moveable Fest. 26 October 2018. Archived from the original on 23 January 2019. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  5. ^ Bentley, Jean; Bentley, Jean (4 October 2018). "'On Her Shoulders': How One Remarkable Woman Can Save the Yazidi People of Iraq". IndieWire. Archived from the original on 5 October 2018. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  6. ^ a b "'On Her Shoulders' documents the quiet persistence of Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad". Los Angeles Times. 5 October 2018. Archived from the original on 22 June 2019. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  7. ^ Fuller, Bonnie (4 December 2018). "'On Her Shoulders' Director Alexandria Bombach Reveals Why She Told Nadia Murad's Advocacy Story". Hollywood Life. Archived from the original on 5 May 2019. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  8. ^ Carey, Matthew; Carey, Matthew (28 December 2018). "Oscar-Shortlisted Doc 'On Her Shoulders' Reveals 'Tightrope' Nobel Peace Prize Winner Nadia Murad Walked To Win Help For Imperiled Yazidis". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 30 December 2018. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d e f "With Steady Hands". Talkhouse. Archived from the original on 12 August 2019. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  10. ^ On Her Shoulders (2018), archived from the original on 13 May 2019, retrieved 15 June 2019
  11. ^ On Her Shoulders, retrieved 15 June 2019
  12. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (24 January 2019). "On Her Shoulders review – the heartbreaking life of Nadia Murad, survivor of genocide". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 21 May 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  13. ^ Minow, Nell (19 October 2018). "On Her Shoulders Movie Review (2018)". rogerebert.com. Archived from the original on 12 April 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  14. ^ Ehrlich, David (20 January 2018). "'On Her Shoulders' Review: A Documentary About Yazidi Activist Nadia Murad Becomes an Essential Portrait of the Strength Required to Speak Up — Sundance 2018". IndieWire. Archived from the original on 12 April 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  15. ^ Mullen, Pat (25 April 2018). "Review: 'On Her Shoulders'". Point of View Magazine. Archived from the original on 16 April 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  16. ^ Andrews, Nigel. "On Her Shoulders/Love Sonia – Consciousness-raising but spirit-lowering". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 15 April 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2019 – via subscription.
  17. ^ "LUNA Awards Artist Grants to Two Films by Female Filmmakers at 2018 SXSW". SXSW. 22 March 2018. Archived from the original on 30 March 2018. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  18. ^ "Warsaw International Film Festival, Awards 2018". Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  19. ^ "Reykjavik International Film Festival (2018)". IMDb. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  20. ^ "'Green Book' Named Best Film by National Board of Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 27 November 2018. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  21. ^ "Nashville Film Festival (2018)". IMDb. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  22. ^ "Jerusalem Film Festival (2018)". IMDb. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  23. ^ "Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival (2018)". IMDb. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  24. ^ "Hollywood Music in Media Awards (HMMA) (2018)". IMDb. Archived from the original on 5 June 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  25. ^ "Heartland International Film Festival (2018)". IMDb. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  26. ^ "Hamburg Film Festival (2018)". IMDb. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  27. ^ McNary, Dave; McNary, Dave (5 March 2018). "Sundance Winner 'On Her Shoulders' Lands at Oscilloscope". Variety. Archived from the original on 27 January 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  28. ^ "ON HER SHOULDERS". Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  29. ^ "On Her Shoulders / International Competition / Official Competition / Program / 2019 / ZAGREBDOX International documentary film festival". zagrebdox.net. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  30. ^ "On Her Shoulders". Alison Klayman. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  31. ^ "camden international film festival Archives". Chicken & Egg Pictures. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  32. ^ Tedesco, Lucia (19 June 2018). "Biografilm 2018 – Sulle sue Spalle: recensione". Cinematographe.it (in Italian). Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  33. ^ "Watch the Films". Film Independent. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  34. ^ "On Her Shoulders". Documentary Edge. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  35. ^ "On Her Shoulders". The 2019 Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking. 25 October 2018. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.

External links[edit]