Sabaya Tells An Emotional Story About The Liberation of Women
One of the best documentaries of 2021 is ‘Sabaya’ which has an element of suspense that keeps you glued to the screen till the end. Documentaries are a great way to learn more about the realities of life. These can be enlightening, engaging, and enraging at the same time.
The documentary narrates the story of courageous individuals who went above the call of duty putting their lives at risk to rescue Yazidi girls from the notorious terrorist group ISIS. The documentary details how activists rescued the slave girls in the heart of war-torn Syria.
Sabaya is written and directed by HogirHirori whose previous works include the Flickansomräddade mitt liv (2014) and the Deminer (2017).
Hirori is an Iraqi Kurd who had left his hometown in 1999 to live in Sweden. In 2014, he made a Swedish documentary Flickansomräddade mitt liv (The Girl Who Saved My Life)that told the tales of about 1.4 million people affected by ISIS. Later in 2017, he released another documentary in English titled Deminer that tells the story of a Kurdish colonel who disarmed roadside bombs in Iraqi Kurdistan.
The latest documentary by Hirori titled Sabaya is about Yazidi women being freed from the clutches of ISIS in war-torn Syria. The documentary was released in selected theaters on July 30. It was followed by a nationwide release including a digital screening on August 6.
Sabaya boasts of close action that is suspenseful and intriguing for the viewers. The film shows a scene from the point of view of a woman in a veil as she walks through the marketplace. Her identity is concealed only by the veil that covers her entire body except for the eyes and lips.
The documentary is about women belonging to a Kurdish ethnic group called the Yazidis. They are a religious minority situated in a province in Iraq called the Sinjar that was captured by ISIS that is also known by the Arabic word Daesh.
ISIS had kidnapped thousands of non-Muslim girls and forced them to become Muslims. Many were forced to serve as sex slaves for the forces of Daesh. The soldiers were reported to have beaten and raped the women without mercy. These Yazidi women are known as Sabaya, who were kept in al-Hol camp – a Syrian outpost guarded by Daesh soldiers. The camp consisted of temporary tents provided by the UNICEF for children and women in war-torn Syria.
An attempt to rescue the Yazidi women was full of dangers. Many of the women at the camp wore mandated niqabs from top to bottom that obscured their identity. Despite the challenges, a group of activists consisting of males and females determined to free the sex slaves of ISIS.
The documentary shows Mahmud who has committed to carry out the snatch-and-grab mission during the night. He recruits undercover agents to infiltrate the al-Hol camp and find out about the location of the Yazidi sex slaves. Mahmud works with his accomplice ShejkZiyad who had founded the Yazidi Home Center. Both the men form the Home Center as the base of their operation to rescue the Yazidi women held by ISIS.
In one scene, the documentary shows Mahmud trying to get in touch with the infiltrators using his smartphone. The call reportedly drops due to poor cellular service that shows the struggles and difficulties in carrying out the rescue mission.
Sabaya provides an immersive experience to the viewers. The camera focuses on Mahmud and his accomplices as they try to infiltrate the al-Hol camp in Syria. It shows a desolate desert landscape with men working under the shadow of the night with guns drawn in search of the Yazidi sex slaves.
The film shows the tension and drama by showing the men and women working for Mahmud putting their lives in danger. In one of the encounters, the film shows Daesh women claiming ignorance of Yazidi sex slaves. But the accomplices of Mahmud are able to find the imprisoned women due to their persistent and undaunted efforts.
The risk of death looms as depicted in one scene with Daesh soldiers pursuing Mahmud and Shejh in a truck and opening fire on them. Mahmud who is a balding man with a mustache on his face does not look like a movie hero. But his actions resemble the thrilling scenes of the superhero in Hollywood films in which the protagonist puts his life on the line to rescue damsel(s) in distress.
Sabay depicts Mahmud as an ordinary person who was compelled to carry out the extraordinary. He is shown cooking with his son and chatting with his wife. The script of Mahmud and Shejk are extempore that shows their amazing courage in fighting for a cause.
Hirori shows the duo as they make their way through the al-Hol camp to rescue the Yazidi women. The documentary shows the limited resources that they had to use for the rescue operation. The camera offers a close and personal account of the effort made by Mahmud with his accomplice in rescuing the sex slaves from ISIS.
The film also depicts the trauma that the women rescued from the al-Hol camp had to endure. One of them confesses that she was contemplating suicide. Many had lost their relatives to ISIS and carried a deep emotional scar.
A heartbreaking scene shows the Yazidi tribe rejecting one of the released woman’s children who was a byproduct of Daesh soldiers. The documentary shows how Yazidi Home Center is helping women and children heal from the nightmare they had endured.
The intimacy of Sabaya elicits sadness and admiration at the same time. It shows the sacrifice of Mahmud and his accomplices as they fight for the freedom of Yazidi sex slaves. They are shown as a hero in the film who accomplishes a great deed putting their lives at risk. The documentary film by Hiroriis another of his creative work that shows the grim reality in the war-torn area ironically known as the Fertile Crescent in ancient times.
If you’re a fan of Middle Eastern cinema, then you’ll definitely want to check out Sabaya, the new film by director Najwa Najjar. The movie is set in the Palestinian refugee camp of Sabra and Shatila, and tells the story of two young women who are forced to confront their fates. Sabaya has already been hailed as a powerful drama that offers a unique perspective on the Palestinian experience. So if you’re looking for an emotional roller coaster ride, be sure to check out Sabaya!