With the collapse of the so-called As expected of the Islamic State, the filming of numerous documentaries that thematize that gruesome period has begun. One of the best films on this topic so far was made by the Polish Hanna Polak, a documentarian and cinematographer who was nominated for an Oscar for a short documentary back in 2005. After the liberation of the parts of Iraq and Syria that had been under the control of these maniacs for years, Polak headed to the northern part of Iraq, to the province of Sinjar, which until 2014 was mostly inhabited by an ethnic group called the Yazidis.
The Yazidis are a Kurdish ethno-religious group from Iraq who, unlike most of their neighbors, are not Muslims, but have a specific religion. Because of this, Muslims have considered them Satanists for centuries and have persecuted them forever, and they experienced the last in a series of pogroms precisely during the time of ISIS. We learn that Sinjar, a city located not far from Mosul, had around 90,000 inhabitants before the creation of the Islamic State. We now see that same city literally razed to the ground, and in 2014 the ISIL carried out a terrible massacre there. Thousands of Yazidis were killed, mostly men, while women, girls and girls were mostly sold as slaves.
And Polak finds in Sinjar several interesting protagonists whose stories are terrible. What we see and hear is unimaginable, creepy, almost unreal, and they tell how they lived there normally until one day, when their neighbors almost turned into vampires. Persecutions, massacres began, and while girls were sold into sexual slavery, boys were kidnapped and almost modern janissaries were created from them, who later carried out suicide attacks.
One of the heroines of the film is Hanifa, a woman in her late twenties or early thirties whose father suffered a heart attack and died on the spot when he found out that his five daughters had been sold into sexual slavery. And while Hanifa’s two sisters, as well as her mother, were successfully freed from slavery and found asylum in Germany, she tries to find the remaining three sisters and save them. The second protagonist is Saeed, the brother of the well-known activist Nadia Murad, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018, who herself was the protagonist of the documentary “On Her Shoulders” in which she drew attention to the fate of her people, especially to what she herself experienced as sex slave.
Saeed’s entire family was killed. Six brothers, mother and father, and even he managed to survive by a mere miracle, and he describes how he himself was shot and thrown into a pit with the others, but ended up wounded and somehow managed to escape. It is a film that literally freezes the blood in the veins and the horrors experienced by the people we meet in “Angels of Sinjar” are almost impossible to comprehend. This film was apparently shot over a long period of time and the author came to the north of Iraq with a camera several times, and at the end she got an incredibly poignant, but brilliantly rounded story.