The documentary that generated strong reviews at Sundance this year follows the sexual exploitation of women in the Kurdish religious minority group of Yazidi. The title refers to the term used for individuals who are abducted and forced into sexual slavery. The film will have theatrical runs in New York, Los Angeles and other key markets as MTV Documentary Films has high hopes for its chances as an film awards contender.
The film follows Mahmud, Ziyad and their group of fellow Yazidis who, armed with only a mobile phone and a gun, risk their lives trying to save Yazidi women and girls being held by ISIS in the most dangerous camp in the Middle East, Al-Hol in Syria.
Writer-director Hogir Hirori recently won the directing award in the World Cinema Documentary category at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Growing up as a Kurd in Northern Iraq, Hirori said he always wished he had a camera as a child to document the injustices his people were subjected to. 20 years later, he created a trilogy of documentaries that illustrate the real consequences of war, as well as the raw and unretouched fate of the Yazidis in Northern Iraq. “Sabaya” marks the final film in this trilogy, following “The Girl Who Saved My Life” (2016) and “TheDeminer” (2017).
“‘Sabaya‘ is a film about those who risk their lives every day to save others,” Hirori said. “It is a documentary about the intolerable and unacceptable consequences of war, about abuse and suffering, but also about humankind and compassion, second chances in life and new beginnings.”
The film was produced by Antonio Russo Merenda and Hirori for Lolav Media and Ginestra Film; co-produced by Axel Arnö for SVT, with support from The Swedish Film Institute; Nordisk Film & TV Fond; Film Stockholm/Filmbasen and in association with YLE and VGTV.
Here is the trailer for “Sabaya.”