@Courtesy: Loveworld Media
“Mediha” is about a young Yazidi girl who was a prisoner of ISIS after they attacked the Yazidi people back in 2014. The story shows her life after she and two of her brothers were freed from enslavement. The three live with their uncle as he tries to find their parents and youngest brother, who are still missing. It’s a powerful story of struggling with the affects of trauma but also strength that’s needed to deal with the trauma.
There was an interesting take that the director took when filming this “Mediha.” Hansan Oswald gave Mediha the camera and filmed a lot of this documentary herself. I thought that was so interesting because I don’t think that I have ever see that approach in a documentary before. It honestly made it more intimate helped us connect with the story more.
There’s one shot in particular that really shows the level of intimacy that would be hard to get with a traditional filming method. Mediha is by herself and, I can only assume, having an anxiety attack and she’s telling the camera how she’s losing her hair, showing it too, and saying she wants to die. That is such a venerable moment for someone and having a normal type of documentary interview, I don’t believe we would have gotten the same impact that we did with that shot.
It also made everything more first person perspective, like we were watching her life through her eyes. Even though I have thankfully never been in her shoes, i felt more connected to her and her story on a deeper level and that’s because of how they let her film it.
What happened to Mediha and her family is very traumatizing and this film shows her struggles with PTSD. As I have said before there was a very vulnerable moment when she is saying she wants to die. She talks about how she falters when she speaks. There’s one part towards the beginning where some children are talking to her and she walks away saying “leave me alone,” and you can just hear it in her voice.
She may look alright on the outside but on the inside she is struggling. She gets anxiety attacks when she hears planes or when she talks about ISIS. When she had the opportunity to help identify her captures, she gets tired. It shows the mental exhaustion that can happen on top of the emotional turmoil.
This film also shows that there are good and bad days when dealing with this. When her uncle goes to the JRS, Mediha seeks out help because she knows there is something wrong. She explains to the psychiatrist about what happens when she gets anxious. She talks about how she often breaks and damages things. How she hurt herself when she was in the hands of ISIS.
In the beginning “Mediha,” you hear Mediha say this:
“Since I returned from ISIS, I falter when I speak. It’s been a long time since I talked about my feelings. But even if I were to talk about it… How would I explain it to you? Would I begin with the night ISIS came and separated my family? Would I tell you about the first man who bought me? Would I tell you about the last? or maybe the community is right… it’s better to forget the past.”
When this comes up at the beginning, it’s just after some light hearted clips during the beginning credits. She then starts off the story at the camp she lives at.
At the end, this monologue is said again this time slightly different. The beginning is the about the same till after she says “would I tell you about the last,” the next thing she says is “or maybe… I will tell you something else.” you then hear her and her siblings trying to set up the camera to get a picture together and it then goes to her dancing to music to end off the film.
These moments are very powerful because it shows her growth since she was a prisoner. The filming of this took place over three years of her life. Many who experience trauma want to forget it happened like her community suggested in the beginning, but by the end it felt like that line was her showing her strength and new perspective about telling this story to us.
“Mediha” had it’s world premiere at the DOC NYC film Festival and won the US Competition category.