September 26, 2018, 7:00 P.M.

SCI 106, Interactive Media Building, 3470 McClintock Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90007

Outside the Box [Office], Oscilloscope Laboratories, and RYOT Films, invite you and a guest to attend a special advance screening of

On Her Shoulders

Written and Directed by Alexandria Bombach
Produced by SCA Alumna Hayley Pappas and Brock Williams

Followed by a Q&A with Alexandria Bombach and Hayley Pappas
Moderated by SCA Professor Mark Jonathan Harris

7:00 P.M. on Wednesday, September 26th, 2018
SCI 106, Interactive Media Building
3470 McClintock Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90007


World Premiere:
2018 Sundance Film Festival – Winner: Directing Award, U.S. Documentary

2018 South by Southwest Film Festival – Winner: SXSW LUNA Chicken & Egg Award | 2018 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival | 2018 Human Rights Watch Film Festival | 2018 Sydney Film Festival | 2018 Sheffield Doc/Fest | 2018 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival

Opens at the Laemmle Monica Film Center
on Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

About On Her Shoulders

Twenty-three-year-old Nadia Murad’s life is a dizzying array of exhausting undertakings—from giving testimony before the U.N. to visiting refugee camps to soul-bearing media interviews and one-on-one meetings with top government officials. With deep compassion and a formal precision and elegance that matches Nadia’s calm and steely demeanor, filmmaker Alexandria Bombach follows this strong-willed young woman, who survived the 2014 genocide of the Yazidis in Northern Iraq and escaped the hands of ISIS to become a relentless beacon of hope for her people, even when at times she longs to lay aside this monumental burden and simply have an ordinary life.

Provided courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories and RYOT Films. Rated R. Running time: 94 minutes.

Visit the Official Website: http://www.onhershouldersfilm.com/


Director's Statement

When Nadia Murad walks into a meeting—whether with a politician, a journalist, or a diplomat—there is a sense of tension. Understandably, it seems that for many it’s difficult to know what to say, what questions to ask, how to express that they care but at the same time not promise too much. They most likely know her wrenching story before she starts, yet no matter how much detail she gives, they also know they couldn’t possibly, truly understand her experience.

This is a film that explores that space—the distance between the victim and her voice, the fragility of human emotions that both provoke and hinder positive change, and the unbelievable resilience of a woman willing to sacrifice herself to play the media game that is modern advocacy.

The past four years of Nadia’s life have been unimaginable. On August 3, 2014, ISIS declared that the Yazidi people of Northern Iraq had long been a shame to their idea of Islam, and set out to commit genocide. An estimated 5,000 people were killed in the weeks that followed, and over 7,000 women and children were captured, forced to become sex slaves and child soldiers. Nadia was captured on the same day that ISIS killed her mother and six brothers. Eighteen members of her family were either killed or enslaved.

As she begins to tell her story, which I heard her recount over and over again, you might think that she would become used to it. But Nadia communicates the weight of her experience in her eyes. At the end of each and every meeting — through the business suits and flurry of handshakes, a long lens captures her sinking back into herself to recover— she is visibly drained.

I followed Nadia and the people working closest with her in the summer of 2016. From refugee camps in Greece to a memorial rally on the anniversary of the genocide in Berlin, to the House of Commons in Ottawa and the United Nations headquarters in New York, Nadia’s life is in constant motion. What I saw was an exhausting process, with no real roadmap for success. I started to see her lose faith in outlets that she had entrusted with her story. It seemed the incessant barrage of questions from the media turned to “How did they rape you” more often than “What can be done for the Yazidis?”

The platform of the victim, the survivor, is nothing to be taken lightly. Nadia herself knows that her words have moved people to take action. It is my hope that this intimate access into Nadia’s life off the podium will reveal the true struggles that a voiceless community faces in getting the world to act.

– Alexandria Bombach

About the Guests

ALEXANDRIA BOMBACH (Director, Cinematographer, Editor)

Alexandria Bombach is an award-winning cinematographer, editor, and director from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her first feature-length documentary, FRAME BY FRAME, followed the lives of four Afghan photojournalists who were facing the realities of building Afghanistan's first free press. The film had its world premiere at SXSW 2015, went on to win more than twenty-five film festival awards, and screened for the president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani. Alexandria continued her work in Afghanistan in 2016, directing the Pulitzer Center-supported New York Times Op-Doc, AFGHANISTAN BY CHOICE, an intertwining portrait of five Afghans who had to weigh the costs of leaving or staying as the country's security deteriorated. In addition to her feature documentary work, Alexandria’s production company Red Reel has been producing award-winning, character-driven stories since 2009. Her 2013 film COMMON GROUND unearthed the emotion behind a proposed wilderness-area addition for a community in Montana as heritage and tradition are seemingly defended on both sides. Her Emmy award-winning 2012 series MOVESHAKE captured the internal conflicts of people dedicating their lives to a cause.

HAYLEY PAPPAS (Producer, SCA Alumna)

Hayley Pappas is the Head of RYOT Films, where she runs all content and creative strategy—overseeing industry partnerships, content development, packaging and distribution, and all ancillary marketing campaigns. With RYOT, Hayley has produced a slate of award-winning docs, including two Oscar®-nominated shorts, BODY TEAM 12 and WATANI: MY HOMELAND, as well as over a dozen virtual reality films with partners such as NPR and the Associated Press. She's sold work to partners ranging from HBO and MTV to Hulu and Apple. Her work has covered topics including sexual assault, solitary confinement and mass executions and has premiered at Sundance, Tribeca, SXSW, and Hot Docs among others.

MARK JONATHAN HARRIS (Moderator, USC Distinguished Professor, Mona and Bernard Kantor Endowed Chair in Production)

Professor Mark Jonathan Harris is an Academy-Award winning documentary filmmaker, journalist and novelist. Among the many documentaries he has written, produced and/or directed are The Redwoods, a documentary made for the Sierra Club to help establish a redwood National Park, which won an Oscar for Best Short Documentary in 1968. The Long Way Home (1997), a film made for the Simon Wiesenthal Center about the period immediately following the Holocaust won the Academy Award for Best Feature Length Documentary (1997). Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport was produced for Warner Bros. and won an Academy Award for Best Feature Length Documentary in 2000. In 2014, it was also selected for permanent preservation in the National Film Registry.

Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives (2003), an HBO documentary he wrote on slavery in America, was nominated for an Emmy for Non-fiction Special. In 2007, he produced Darfur Now, which was nominated by The National Board of Review and the Broadcast Film Critics Association for best documentary of the year. The film went on to win an NAACP Image Award.

He also wrote The Cutting Edge:  The Magic of Movie Editing, a documentary about editing produced by BBC-TV, NHK, and STARZ, which is shown in film schools around the world (2004). In 2006, he produced Darfur Now, a film about the humanitarian crisis in Africa, which was nominated as best documentary of the year by the National Board of Review and the Broadcast Film Critics Association and won an NAACP Image Award. Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders, a film he executive produced, premiered at the Venice film festival and was shortlisted for the 2011 Oscar for best feature documentary. Code Black, another documentary he executive produced about ER doctors, won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival. Lost for Life, a film he produced about juvenile murderers who are sentenced to life imprisonment without parole, aired on both the BBC and the Lifetime Movie Channel in 2014. For the past three years he and Professor Marsha Kinder have led a team of filmmakers in creating a video intensive website on autism, www.interactingwithautism.com which was launched in September 2013. 

In 2010 the International Documentary Association honored him with their Scholarship and Preservation Award.

In addition to filmmaking, Harris is also a journalist and has published short stories and five novels for children. He has taught filmmaking at the School of Cinematic Arts since 1983.

About Outside the Box [Office]

Outside the Box [Office] is a weekly showcase for upcoming releases highlighting world cinema, documentary and independent film titles. Recognizing a need for greater diversity on campus, the series will draw from around the globe to present movies that may challenge, inspire or simply entertain.

To view the calendar of screenings, click here

To SUBSCRIBE to our MAILING LIST for upcoming free screenings and events, e-mail the word "Subscribe" to: aago@cinema.usc.edu

Join our Public Group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/223769338060863/

Check-In & Reservations

This screening is free of charge and open to the public. Please bring a valid USC ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 6:30 P.M.

All SCA screenings are OVERBOOKED to ensure seating capacity in the theater, therefore seating is not guaranteed based on RSVPs. The RSVP list will be checked in on a first-come, first-served basis until the theater is full. Once the theater has reached capacity, we will no longer be able to admit guests, regardless of RSVP status.


The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $12.00 at the USC Royal Street Entrance, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & Royal Street. We recommend the USC Royal Street Structure, at the far end of 34th Street. Limited street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.

Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago
Email: aago@cinema.usc.edu