Iraqi Journal - Nori Sharif in the triangle of death

The opening film of the 14th Verzio International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival is Nowhere to Hide, an outstanding documentary directed by Zaradasht Ahmed, which takes us to the central part of Iraq, to the triangle of death, where we follow the life of nurse Nori Sharif for five years.

The story begins with the departure of US troops in 2011. Nori is given a camera to film his life after the liberation in Jalawla, his hometown. Therefore we are presented with a subjective interpretation of events, and we experience what happens there through a local’s eyes. Nori introduces his friends, his family and his patients to the viewer. Through them, we can understand how war changes people forever; we see men crippled, families fallen apart, people paralyzed, and a father who lost his leg. The viewer becomes witness of human destinies and heartbreaking stories of individuals.

Later on, the focus changes to a major event, the Iraqi civil war starting in 2012, which determines everyone’s lives for years to come. Life is ruled by violence and corruption, suicide bombers and sticky bombs hidden in cars take people’s lives daily. Your neighbour could become your enemy the very next day. The film builds tension but at the same time offers us moments of release too. Even though there is war, there are still weddings and parties being organized; life goes on.


In 2013, Nori takes part in a protest where he films the crowd demanding peace. The situation is at its peak in this year, the hospital is empty as doctors and nurse ran away. ISIS took over the city, and hearing the noise of bombings becomes a common, everyday experience. Nori decides that they should leave the town as they are unsafe in Jalawla. During 2014, they are constantly on the run, looking for a safe place for the family to live. They hide in a school along with twenty other families, however, war follows them everywhere, and they soon have to move on. In 2015, a new phase begins for Nori and his family when they settle in a refugee camp to start their new life in a 2-room cabin sharing it with twenty other people. Before long, he is called back to his home town to check on the situation in the hospital which they find completely destroyed. Likely they took off in the last minute to save their lives. The viewer at this point takes account, as Nori will too at the end of the film. He is standing at the ruins of his former hometown, the next frame shows his family. We can ask ourselves the questions: What is, in fact, the value of life? What is our purpose? And where is our home? The film concludes that people and their lives are the most valuable, and they overcome even the most horrible difficulties. Nori and his family still lives in the refugee camp along with 500 other refugees, where, even if they are in a temporary home, at least they are safe.

Nowhere to Hide is a film of great importance because there are hundreds of thousands of people similar to Nori these days who try to find peace and safety, and wish to continue the lives that they had to abandon for circumstances beyond their control. That is why Nori’s story is shocking but thought-provoking, and that is why I hope it will reach a great many people.

Rebeka Tóth