2016 IDFA Review: Nowhere To Hide


Hot off its best feature length documentary win at the 2016 International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), Zaradasht Ahmed’s ‘Nowhere to Hide’ is the story of a male nurse named Nori Sharif who worked in a hospital in Jawala, part of the country’s “triangle of death” in its central region, from the time the U.S. army left in 2011 until he was forced to leave the area by the arrival of ISIS in 2014.

The Swedish/Norwegian coproduction begins as an on the ground account of the doctor’s daily routine at the cusp of the coalition’s withdrawal from Iraq, however as time moves forward, the quagmire that is a peaceful, democratic Iraq becomes painfully evident. Some three years after the troop “withdrawal,” a new force comes to town, ISIS, and in their wake, Sharif and his family are forced to turn the cameras on themselves as the fight for their lives.

‘Nowhere to Hide’ depicts modern warfare, without fronts, uniforms, or rules. ISIS nihilistic worldview forces Sharif to not take sides in the ideological conflict that may, or may not, be based on religious fundamentalism. Rather, Sharif presents a narrative of hope and faith in the face of an unimaginable norm – constant conflict, of which we as spectators have become all too accustomed to viewing.

The ever present camera of Zaradasht Ahmed, a veteran of Middle Eastern documentary whose previous films include the recently lauded ‘Fata Morgana,’ as well as the award-winning documentary ‘Road to Diyarbakir,’ organically depicts the interconnected nature of war, juxtaposing it with the increasingly prominent resistance movements popping up throughout the conflict zone.  Reminiscent of Laura Poitras‘My Country My Country,’ ‘Nowhere to Hide’ takes no sides in its universal condemnation of the differences we imagine. A timely film and one with a far-reaching message, The IDFA Jury described its success with:

“There are those films which are wonderful to see and there are films that the world needs to see. The film we [chose] is both of these things. The experience was immersive and left us deeply touched. The director respected the unique perspective that only the subject could have and in doing so he gave us an unprecedented window into the real-life lasting consequences of war.”

Nowhere to Hide by Zaradasht Ahmed (Norway/Sweden, 86′) IDFA 2016


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