June 24, 2024

Mediha 2024 Movie Review

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Mediha 2024 Movie Review

There is an extraordinarily blunt title card dropped roughly five minutes into “Mediha,” by which time you’ve become acquainted with the 15-year-old Iraqi girl of the title now living in a refugee camp with her younger brothers Ghazwan and Adnan and their uncle Omar who snuck them off into safety. A credit informs that cinematography responsibilities were split between Mediha Ibrahim Alhamad and director Hasan Oswald, though you’d know this from the first-person camerawork on the ground as Mediha explores her surroundings and from the sky, Oswald deploys drones to capture shots of the lush green hills from above where sheep roam – both views unlikely to be the type of images you may have seen before in the west, and although Mediha dances around the horrors that have led her to resettle in the region, absent both her parents who she can only assume are dead, there’s no getting around a bold, all caps admonition that her entire heritage has been systematically destroyed as someone of the Kurdish-speaking Yazidi community, with all grown men targeted for execution by ISIS, women and girls sold off as slaves and young boys separated and inducted into the Islamic State to keep the cycle of violence going in perpetuity.

In that context, the click of the camera that one can hear as the screen fades to black is the most powerful weapon at Mediha’s disposal, documenting her life in exile where even in a place where it feels like no one cares for her, she still feels inhibited, not joining her brothers when they go swimming because it would be indecent and her mind still holds memories of being held by ISIS at the age of 10, which she tries her best to forget. “Mediha” isn’t the first to observe the relentless and atrocious persecution of the Yazidis, though the most prominent previous attempt “Sabaya,” which took a similar first-person approach, became mired in ethical questions when its subjects were said not to have wanted to participate in the film. After assuming too much before, I’m reluctant to write too much about the nature of the collaboration between Oswald and Alhamad, though as presented the director appears only willing to go as far into Mediha’s memory as she wants to herself about her past and finds a fascinating conflict arise when recollections could help her brother Barzhan, who went missing when her parents did and is now believed to have been one of many orphans sold off to families in Turkey.

Although Mediha is able to show a rare side of the ongoing humanitarian tragedy simply by keeping her camera rolling, Oswald begins to follow Barzhad, who is enlisted to track down Barzhan based on a handful of clues and binders full of past investigations that may help inform simply through a process of elimination. As Mediha confesses at one point, she thought her family had experienced the worst until learning what her neighbors in the camps had gone through, and while the film largely refrains from explicitly recounting the horrors suffered by the Yazidis to honor Mediha’s own discretion, it brings their impact on those who continue to endure to the surface before eventually finding its way into the Al-Hol refugee camp in Northern Syria where it is believed Barzhan or even his mother Afaf could be amidst countless others. Whether the pursuit of the missing persons is successful for not becomes besides the point when the massive scale of what’s already been lost can be felt and in looking through the eyes of Mediha, who has the sophisticated perspective of an adult at the expense of having no real childhood to speak of, it movingly becomes a burden that can be shared rather than weigh solely on her shoulders.

Mediha 2024 Movie Review