The Yazidis are an ethnic group of Kurdish origin from northern Iraq, Syria and south-eastern Turkey. In 2015, Daesh attacked the Iraqi city of Sinjar to exterminate the Yazidi population. An estimated 3,000 people were killed and nearly 7,000 abducted. Today, hundreds of Yazidi women and girls live in the Al Hol refugee camp in north-eastern Syria with their captors and are still forced into sexual slavery. "Sabaya" means sex slave. Director Hogir Hirori risks his life, together with the protagonists of the documentary, to show us the harsh reality of trying to rescue these women.
Al-Hol is one of the most dangerous camps in the Middle East, with nearly 73,000 refugees, many of whom are former Daesh followers. The documentary follows Mahmud, Ziyad and the rest of the Yazidi House Centre volunteers who fight with all their might to coordinate rescue efforts. They have the help of Yazidi women who were released from Al-Hol and have decided to return to the camp as infiltrators to help their peers. There are no words to describe their courage.
Every night foray in Al-Hol gives the chills, the narration progresses in real time and shows us a reality that we don’t see in the media. There are many strong emotions in the Yazidi House Centre and the comradeship and empathy to care for the liberated women and girls is touching. The members of the Centre will continue to fight, despite knowing they are endangering their lives. Hirori deservedly won the award for best direction at the Sundance 2021 festival.
A riveting, though often meandering story, about a select few working to reunite the families torn apart by an endless civil war.— Robert Daniels · RogerEbert
Impressively exciting and strikingly novel.— Inkoo Kang · Hollywood Reporter
A small band of volunteers attempt to rescue female ISIS slaves from a Syrian border camp in Hogir Hirori's gripping, harrowing, superb doc.— Jessica Kiang · Variety