2018 Sundance Docs in Focus: ON HER SHOULDERS

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Alexandria Bombach

Alexandria Bombach chronicles the efforts of a young woman to advocate for her people on the global stage.

Festival Section:
US Documentary Competition

Sundance Program Description:

Mobbed by iPhone cameras and pushy reporters, 23-year-old Nadia Murad leads a harrowing but vital crusade: to find the most influential platforms in the world and speak out on behalf of the embattled Yazidi community who face mass extermination by ISIS militants. Having narrowly escaped with her own life, Nadia must now relentlessly recount on radio shows, at rallies, and even on the floor of the United Nation’s general assembly her ordeal as a Yazidi sex slave and witness to her family’s brutal killings. Though excruciating, she forces herself to revisit these realities again and again. For without her testimony, the genocide happening right in front of the world’s eyes might go completely unnoticed.

With a formal precision and elegance that matches Nadia’s calm and steely demeanor, filmmaker Alexandria Bombach brings us inside an exhausting, destabilizing journey fraught with personal pain and profound ethical urgency. From the refugee camps in Greece to the gilded halls of power, we observe a woman repurpose unimaginable trauma into a powerful rallying cry for justice.

Some Background:

  • Alexandria Bombach

    Bombach’s sophomore effort, following the SXSW-debuting FRAME BY FRAME, is her first project at Sundance.


  • Hayley Pappas

    Pappas is the Emmy Award-winning head of RYOT Films. She was a creative advisor to the 2015 Sundance Stories of Change, but this film marks her first Sundance credit.

  • Brock Williams

    Boxcar Films’ Williams previously produced the Sundance narrative short ’92 SKYBOX ALONZO MOURNING ROOKIE CARD (2012), and was a consulting producer on Bombach’s FRAME BY FRAME.


  • Elizabeth Schaeffer Brown

    Schaeffer Brown is an entrepreneur whose work focuses on the protection of women’s rights and the countering of extremism. She is a partner of former International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo’s Moreno Ocampo Consulting and an advisor to Nadia Murad. This is her first film credit.

Associate Producer:

  • Gabriel Lifton-Zoline

    This marks the first Sundance credit for the RYOT chief operating officer, who has a background in grassroots political campaign management.

Executive Producers:

  • Bryn Mooser and Matt Ippolito

    This is also the first Sundance project for RYOT co-founder Mooser and vice president of strategy and ops/chief operating officer Ippolito, respectively. Mooser previously produced the Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning short doc BODY TEAM 12.

  • Marie Therese Guirgis
    Past Sundance docs:

    TARNATION (2003)

    The film industry veteran is the head of production and development for RatPac Documentary Films.

  • Adam Bardach
    Past Sundance docs:


    Bardach is the head of physical production for RatPac Documentary Films.

  • Alison Klayman
    Past Sundance docs:

    HOOLIGAN SPARROW (2016, executive producer)
    AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY (2012, director/producer)

    Klayman’s directorial debut, AI WEIWEI, picked up a special jury prize at Sundance.

Additional Editor:

  • Michael Bucuzzo

    This is Bucuzzo’s first Sundance credit.

Why You Should Watch:
Bombach’s singular focus on the determined Murad underscores the collective weight placed on the young activist to represent the Yazidi all on her own, fighting to get the world’s attention on an ignored atrocity before it’s too late.

More Info:
Sundance’s Meet the Artist

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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