The picture of strength and humility: ‘On Her Shoulders’



Scripted and directed to melt the hardest of hearts, ‘On Her Shoulders’ had several in tears as the 92 minute film was screened at the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival 2019. The protagonist, Nadia Murad, is a picture of courage and strength, everyone must aspire to achieve.


Director, Alexandria Bombach, follows this brave 23-year old and paints the most pretty picture of a heart-aching story. Ms Bombach’s work shows immense skill as she tactfully treads between being sensitive to what Ms Murad has gone through while also giving the viewer the complete story. Ms Murad’s horrors intertwined with her maturity has been beautifully portrayed.  


Nadia was made the first U.N. Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking in 2016. She was also the first Iraqi and Yazdi woman to have received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018.


The documentary captures the Yazidi girl’s story of escaping the genocide in Northern Iraq by ISIS, and her journey after. It was awarded the the US Documentary Directing award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018 and was a nominee for the Independent Awards, Best Documentary, 2019.


An attendee at the festival Rebeccah Bartlett was in awe of what she saw and said she believes the film needs to be screened on a larger scale.


“I guess I am still processing. I have read her book and I think the movie was incredibly confronting in a necessary way,” Ms Bartlett said.


“My only regret is that more people won’t see it and I am grateful that the film festival put it on and I guess allow for the opportunity afterwards.”


HRAFF was incredibly honoured to be able to screen the film and would not have been able to do it without their Girls to the Front partner, Plan International Australia. Addressing the crowd before the film was Hayley Cull, Director of Advocacy and Community Engagement for Plan International Australia. She spoke about the film, and the work that Plan International does, why watching and sharing the film’s message of ‘shared responsibility’ was important.  


“The belief that girls have the potential to completely change the world has been popularly thrust upon them, and they do, but this task is not just theirs to have,” Ms Cull said.


“Rather than expecting girls to be the answers to the world’s problems it’s up to all of us to stand with them and share the responsibility as allies, as supporters and as fellow human beings.”


“The more people a girl has standing with her, the less rests on her shoulders alone and that’s why this film is being put forward to us today and it’s so important that you are sharing this journey with us.”

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