A documentary by Zaradasht Ahmed. In Arabic, with English subtitles. Rating unavailable
You don’t have to understand what’s been going on in Iraq in the past 15 years to follow this quietly incendiary film. Its main subject and principal cinematographer, Nori Sharif, doesn’t quite get it either. This instantly likable fellow had been working as a paramedic in the volatile Diyala region for more than a decade when filmmaker Zaradasht Ahmed handed over a small digital camera and asked him to shoot anything that moved.
Since Bush II fatally destabilized the region in 2003, Iraqis have seen one sectarian conflict after another. Nowhere to Hide begins with the U.S. withdrawal in 2011 and follows roughly four years, with Sharif filming himself in increasingly brutal circumstances, as Sunni and Shiite militias duke it out and then are replaced by the fresh nightmare of an advancing Islamic State. We see the aftermath of car bombings and drive-by shootouts, and villagers tell of seeing youngsters kidnapped and later decapitated. “What is this terror for?” one exclaims. “Can anyone tell me?”
It’s all just as baffling to our subject, who describes the seemingly endless conflict as “an undiagnosed war: you only see the symptoms; you don’t understand the disease.” For a long time, he’s able to maintain some professional detachment from the chaos, but it eventually disrupts his own family, and he’s forced to grab his loved ones and run for sanctuary. After much harrowing effort, they find a cramped cabin in an overflowing camp for internal refugees, where they adjust to the hardships with amazingly good humour. (Their four adorable children do offer some hope for the future.)
We can’t know how much footage was actually shot by our big-hearted tour guide, as the material was shaped into a tight 86 minutes by Swedish editor Eva Hillström and the Iraqi-born Ahmed. If you want to know why some people must keep running, this is a good place to start.