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Eric Newman and Medaya Ocher are joined by Hogir Hirori to talk about his latest film, Sabaya, which documents the heroic efforts to rescue women and girls from ISIS slavery at a refugee camp in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border. Sabaya, which premiered at Sundance and is now available nationwide, is a moving and visceral documentary that follows a team of volunteers from the Yazidi Home Center in northern Syria as they try to rescue Yazidi girls, some as young as seven, who have been kidnapped and sold into sexual and physical slavery by ISIS. Armed with just a mobile phone, a handgun, and information from “infiltrators” indicating where the captured girls are being held, Mahmud Ziyad and his team face incredible odds. After the rescued girls return to the Yazidi Home Center, we witness their palpable relief and learn of the horrific treatment they’ve been forced to endure. Sabaya is a harrowing story of both the best and worst of humanity, told from a place, and by a people, who are too often just words in headlines across the world. It also testifies to the power of documentaries and to the courage of filmmakers, who put their lives on the line to tell stories the world needs to hear.
Also, Katie Kitamura, author of Intimacies, returns to recommend German author Anna Seghers’s Transit, translated by Margot Bettauer Dembo, about a refugee attempting to leave Vichy France in 1944 through the port of Marseilles. Katie also recommends German director Christian Petzold’s 2018 film adaptation of the same name, which is set in contemporary France.