Review: Nowhere to Hide

Nowhere to Hide is a story of a man struggling for survival in Iraq, where war has become the norm. The enemy is invisible, and neither women nor children have a safe hideout. Our protagonist, 36-year-old Nori Sharif, is husband, father of four children, and a male nurse. He becomes a videographer, documenting life over several years in one of Iraq’s most dangerous provinces: Diyala. By following Nori we take part in his daily life. We are with him as another war erupts after the American retreat in 2011; a new war without fronts, uniforms or common rules. Without choosing sides, Nori records destruction as well as hope from this war zone. But it is the beginning of the end.

The film stretches over a period of five years, beginning with the hope of a better future, to witnessing the growth of ISIS (the Islamic State), and eventually the fall of Nori’s home town. As Nori keeps filming throughout this period of time, he begins to turn the camera on himself. Nori’s narrative represents persistence, hope and faith. But, in this new reality of being squeezed between two giant forces – ISIS on one side and the Iraqi militias on the other – is it possible to remain impartial and keep his family intact? Will he and his family survive, and be able to rebuild the country and the oasis that lies hidden behind the smoke and rubble?

Director Zaradasht Ahmed takes the viewer into a terrifying, real world horror that we are aware of but have never seen so up close and personal. What we are watching is a tough, but necessary pill to swallow. The footage that is chronicled by the protagonist is harrowing and surreal. What we’re being shown is the dour repercussions of a war. What makes Nowhere to Hide an enthralling story is how it doesn’t hold back and chooses to show the viewer the magnitude of the Iraq War. Through news outlets and social media we’re never given a perspective from a civilian and after watching the film we start to sympathize even more for the innocent.

36-year-old Nori Sharif, husband and father of four children, should be applauded for all the footage he documents. There is likely hours and hours of video available, but Ahmed and his editor seamlessly compile the footage into a tight 86 minute film that is able to establish its purpose. Though Iraq’s current state is in shambles, our look inside Sharif and his family is a humbling experience as we’re given a dose of their daily life. The humility from Sharif is what makes us care for him and makes the impact of the story so profound and delicate.

Nowhere to Hide is a compelling story which shows a close up look at the victims of the Iraq war. This film isn’t trying to make a political statement, but instead shows the horrific events through the lens of a camera thanks to a daring civilian. What makes this extraordinary filmmaking is the unfiltered, unflinching look at the material. The footage we’re shown is shocking and necessary to its subject. Do yourself a favour and seek out Nowhere to Hide.

Rating: 8.5/10

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