ACT Human Rights Film Festival: ‘Nowhere to Hide’ takes viewers on an intimate journey into Iraq’s triangle of death

Carson Lipe

Images of war-torn Iraq permeate the media, but few sources have taken an in-depth look at the lives who are affected by the conflict. 

The film “Nowhere to Hide” explores this element with diligence. The film follows an Iraqi man, Nori Sharif, through his day-to-day living in an area of central Iraq dubbed the triangle of death, immediately after the American military withdrawal in Dec. 2011.

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The triangle of death gets its name from the seemingly unending conflict that takes place in the region and the movie provides viewers with a small taste of the imminent danger felt by people who reside in the area.

Sharif, a nurse by trade, is given a camera at the beginning of the film by what seems to be the films’ crew. They ask him to record people in his community and their struggles, be it at his hospital or in daily encounters. Although the Americans have pulled out of Iraq at this point, there is an immediate rise in violence from extremist groups largely created by American negligence in supporting Iraq following the military withdrawal.

It may sound like just another war documentary, but this particular film goes deeper. Viewers aren’t simply deluged by grotesque imagery for the length of the film. Although there are some scenes depicting physical and emotional trauma, what makes this movie different is its exploration of the humans behind the suffering.

For more information on the ACT Human Rights Film Festival visit www.lctix.com/act-film-festival-2018

In one scene, family members of recently slain victims are called to a building to identify their beloved family members. The raw emotion is depicted thereafter; sons clutching their dead father as they cry out in agony is at times more difficult to see than the images of the deceased.

Because Sharif is a longtime citizen of Iraq, he has many friends whom he interviews. None of them are free from the burden of conflict. Everyone is in some way affected, be it from personal injury, the loss of a friend or family member or even just because of the curfew that is in place from 5 p.m.–5 a.m. at one point in the chronology.

“Nowhere to Hide” seeks to dismantle the narrative that Iraq, and the citizens therein, are inherently violent. The film shows that they are simply caught in a power vacuum that was created when the authority of the U.S. military was no longer present. They are wives, mothers, doctors, professionals and above all, humans.

Although they are in a terrible situation, what is most apparent is that the people in the film do not give up hope. They still maintain whatever regularities they can. Children sing and dance with each other even as artillery is heard in the distance and the smiles on the faces of the people, some of whom are badly maimed, are more prevalent than any negative imagery.

Expecting to leave the film with a feeling of hopelessness, I instead left with a renewed sense of purpose, gratitude and an unwavering respect for the citizens of Iraq, who are not hopeless but strong, resilient and courageous.

Collegian reporter Carson Lipe can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @carsonlipe