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Nadia Murad, a 23-year-old refugee and reluctant activist who was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations, is the subject of this piercing and powerful documentary. Muran is of the Yazidi people, a historically persecuted Kurdish religious minority who live in the north of Iraq. When the Islamic State attacked her village, Murad endured sexual and physical abuse, escaped and has since been speaking about the genocide against her people and working to free the women and girls still enslaved. Now, she carries on her narrow shoulders the Sisyphean burden of her religion, her people, her trauma and the pain of those she left behind.
Alexandria Bombach won the directing prize at Sundance for her portrayal of a young woman who would rather have been known as a seamstress or farmer than as an activist. Bombach deftly captures the moments between Murad’s speeches and interviews when she is sunken and aloof, having just told her harrowing story once more. Doting journalists and politicians thank and respect Murad, yet fail her again and again. On Her Shoulders captures the complexity of being a survivor in search of a homeland, an all too common experience that must always be told in order for genocide to truly happen “never again.” —Alexis Whitman
Winner, Directing Award, 2018 Sundance Film Festival
Alexandria Bombach is an award-winning cinematographer, editor, and director from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her first feature-length documentary, Frame by Frame , follows the lives of four Afghan photojournalists who are facing the realities of building Afghanistan's first free press. The film had its world premiere at SXSW 2015, went on to win more than 25 film festival awards and screened in front of the president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani. Alexandria continued her work in Afghanistan in 2016 directing the Pulitzer Center-supported New York Times Op-Doc, Afghanistan by Choice , an intertwining portrait of five Afghans who must weigh the costs of leaving or staying as the country's security deteriorates. Her 2013 film Common Ground unearths the emotion behind a proposed wilderness-area addition for a community in Montana as heritage and tradition are seemingly defended on both sides. Her Emmy award-winning 2012 series MoveShake captured the internal conflicts of people dedicating their lives to a cause.