Documentary 'Nowhere to Hide' reveals the wounds of Iraq
Nowhere to Hide is a documentary recently screened as part of a collaboration between Human Rights Watch and the Sydney Film Festival, that gives the audience a glimpse of how in-fighting and external forces have wreaked havoc on the once peaceful Iraq over past five years.
It is told from the perspective of male nurse Nori Sharif, father of four, who uses a camera to record and capture life in Iraq after the US troops left the country in 2011. Director Zaradasht Ahmed taught Sharif how to use a camera, which provides a unique first-hand insight into one of the world’s most dangerous areas in Iraq, Jalalwa.
Working in the local hospital in Jalawla, Sharif’s profession gives him close-up access to injured and desperate people. As a Sunni Arab man, Sharif is in danger because the Sunnis – who were once a majority power- are now a minority in Iraq since the US invasion in 2003. They were replaced by Shiite who gained power in Iraq as a direct result of the U.S. led-invasion. Over the course of five years, Sharif filmed the victims of war showing families torn apart, mutilated and damaged by the violence.
‘It’s an undiagnosed war. You see the killing, the blood baths and the displacement but you don’t understand the disease. It’s hidden in the body,’ Sharif said.
Sharif speaks to townspeople left scarred and disabled from land mines and crossfire in the ongoing sectarian violence in hopes to preserve their memory. He films a scene where a local farmer speaks about his two schoolboys who were kidnapped and beheaded with no understandable motivation.
"It’s an undiagnosed war. You see the killing, the blood baths and the displacement but you don’t understand the disease. It’s hidden in the body.’"
– Nori Sharif
At first, Sharif said he worked with patients who had ‘normal injuries’ such as fractures, but eventually these escalated to gunshot wounds and lacerations from bombs.
Iraqi civilians have spent years in fear and brutality from either insurgents, terrorists, deliberate violence or the external violence. Currently there are three million people displaced in Iraq with 780,000 in the Mosul operation alone.
Belkis Wille, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch that investigates human rights abuses in Iraq, told The Point Magazine there are thousands of cases like Sharif’s but she was hopeful the days of ISIS controlling territory in Iraq was over.
‘I think their days are numbered in Iraq but unfortunately I don’t think it’s the end of ISIS in general. I think we will still see bombings and other acts of horror committed by the extremists around the world,’ Willie said.
Wille said she has spoken to some Iraqi Christians and Yazidi who initially wanted to return home, but now they want to leave the country.
“Minority groups have told me that when ISIS came to their areas, they saw their own neighbours, who they lived with for decades, turn on them by handing them over to ISIS. They have been traumatised by this experience and have said they can never feel safe again in Iraq.”
In 2014, Sharif filmed ISIS advancing on Jalawla, which sent thousands fleeing with no safety in sight, including his family. One shot shows the ISIS flag flying over a government building as they flee. They finally find a safe haven, a camp for displaced people, after fleeing to thirteen different locations.
This is the reality for hundreds of thousands.
A local man tells Sharif he doesn’t even know who why the war started.
“First it’s a war between Sunni and Shiite, then it’s between village tribes, then Muslims against Christians. There’s no stable reason for any of the violence,” he said.
Human Rights Watch and Sydney Film Festival collaborated to screen the documentary in Sydney on June 15.
A documentary recently screened as part of a collaboration between Human Rights Watch and the Sydney Film Festival