The Ethics of Storytelling with Alexandria Bombach

How do you tell a story of someone who went through a trauma and not let that experience define the person? The guest of this week’s episode, American filmmaker Alexandria Bombach asked herself this question when she met Nadia Murad, an activist for Yazidi rights and the winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

With her film On her shoulders, Bombach created an intimate portrait of a woman who had an enormous responsibility to tell the world of the Yazidi genocide commited by ISIS. More than 4,000 people have died and more than 10,000 were kidnapped or held in captivity. Among them were hundreds of women who were forced into sexual slavery. Nadia was one of them.

But as Alexandria told us in this interview, her film is as much about us, as it is about Nadia Murad. Director asks us hard questions: what does it really mean to be an activist? Are we genuinely willing to support activist’s cause or do we just want to take a picture with her?

The film was awarded for the best documentary directing at the Sundance film festival and was nominated for the documentary Grand Jury Prize.

Our contributor journalist and filmmaker Ieva Balsiūnaitė met Alexandria Bombach at New York this November to discuss her approach to filmmaking. This week, we are sharing their conversation.

The Nobel Peace Prize committee awarded Nadia Murad „for her efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.“ Still from the film

Further Reading:

On Her Shoulders: The Making of an Activist by Jason Osder, Documentary.org

Support Nadia Murad’s initiative at Nadia’s Initiative

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Studio voice was recorded at Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania.

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