CIFF 41 Film Review

Nowhere to Hide

Lisa Sanchez

‚ÄčApril 1, 2017

Nowhere to Hide begins with Nori, a nurse in central Iraq, documenting the the effects of American troops leaving the area on December 31, 2011. In Nori's perspective, Iraq is on the cusp of a new era after the Saddam Hussein regime and the American invasion. Nori sounds hopeful, but that optimism is tragic considering I, and the audience, know what has happened in Iraq since the 2011 exodus.

Nori, a jovial tour guide through the "triangle of death" in central Iraq, acts as an amateur documentarian in Nowhere to Hide. He shows the lives of people that have been affected by the American invasion of Iraq. As a nurse, Nori talks about the types of injuries he's seen since American boots hit Iraqi soil in the early 2000s. While working, Nori asks a patient if he's been injured before, when the patient says no, Nori responds, "You're not from Iraq then," demonstrating the tragic frequency of violence and war fallout in occupied Iraq.

As Nori, our narrator, tells it, there is no shortage of stories in central Iraq. He shows us footage of car bombings, we meet victims of ISIS ad Al Qaeda who have been kidnapped, maimed by crossfire, or lost limbs from sticky bombs and other incendiary devices. These stories, only a small sampling of thousands like them, show the human lives caught in between American warfare and terrorist violence.

As violence increases in Iraq, Nori and his family are forced to flee their home as ISIS begins moving through territories and burning Iraqi military posts in their wake. Nori comments that he started out documenting the lives of people going through hardship, only to turn the camera on himself to show the sickness, fear, and transiency that he and his family now have to experience.
Nowhere to Hide is a film that confronts you with the visceral violence that exists in Iraq because it demands to be seen as the Iraqi people see it: often and daily. Nori's footge shows people unflinching and unsurprised in the face of gunfire, explosions, and helicopters spinning overhead. While on a constant search for safety, Nori and his family can only respond to these sounds by moving again until they finally find solace from the war zone they were unwillingly thrust into.

The film is not so much a documentary as it is a message in a bottle to the western world. The film itself is shot on a small camera with Nori choosing the shots, occasionally letting his children record, reflecting what he sees on his journey through post-occupation to terrorist insurrection. The film is not gritty, it is just Nori's raw perspective told through the only medium he was given. 

It's difficult to attribute a "message" to Nowhere to Hide when it is the unfiltered presentation of Iraqi citizens; lives. It could be interpreted as a scathing critique of the American war machine, the need for humanitarian aid in the Middle East, or a missive about the necessity of medical care in war torn countries. But, more than anything, Nowhere to Hide is the human experience laid bare in the desert.

There were multiple times in Nowhere to Hide when I teared up at the outpouring of pure human suffering and sorrow that was presented on screen. Family members cried over their loved ones, people were rendered invalids due to war injuries, and Nori's own children deal with sickness and confusion while on the path to safety.

Eventually, Nori and his family end up at a refugee camp in Iraq with 500 other families. Their housing is about 30 feet long for the six of them, but the children are able to go to school and make friends, but Nori is still concerned about the incendiary nature of the area. After that, Nowhere to Hide ends without much summation because the situation in Iraq is ongoing and it's unclear that the story needs to be told in the film when it is told every day in international news stories and in death statistics.

Rating: 4/5