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Nowhere to Hide (2016)

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Nowhere to Hide follows male nurse Nori Sharif through five years of dramatic change, providing unique access into one of the world’s most dangerous and inaccessible areas – the “triangle of death” in central Iraq. Initially filming stories of survivors and the hope of a better future as American and Coalition troops retreat from Iraq in 2011, conflicts continue with Iraqi militias, and the population flees accompanied by most of the hospital staff.

Nori is one of the few who remain. When ISIS advances on Jalawla in 2014 and takes over the city, he too must flee with his family at a moment’s notice, and turns the camera on himself.

This is a story of a man struggling for survival in Iraq…

where war has become the norm. The enemy is invisible, and neither women nor children have a safe hideout. Our protagonist,   36-year-old Nori Sharif, is husband, father of four children, and a male nurse. He becomes a videographer,

documenting life over several years in one of Iraq’s most dangerous provinces: Diyala.

By following Nori we take part in his daily life. We are with him as another war erupts after the American retreat in 2011; a new war without fronts, uniforms or common rules. Without choosing sides, Nori records destruction as well as hope from this war zone. But it is the beginning of the end. The film stretches over a period of five years, beginning with the hope of a better future, to witnessing the growth of ISIS (the Islamic State), and eventually the fall of Nori’s home town. As Nori keeps filming throughout this period of time, he begins to turn the camera on himself.

Nori’s narrative represents persistence, hope and faith. But, in this new reality of being squeezed between two giant forces – ISIS on one side and the Iraqi militias on the other, is it possible to remain impartial and keep his family intact? Will he and his family survive, and be able to rebuild the country and the oasis that lies hidden behind the smoke and rubble?


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"My ambition is to let the audience reflect on the human consequences of a brutal reality where all taboos are violated.

With “Nowhere to Hide” I want to show that we are all part of this reality – war, explosions, victims, terrorism, they affect us globally, and we are all responsible, despite our geographical whereabouts. Meanwhile, I want to show the human resistance that is growing among these survivors; to show the hope of rebuilding after the breakdown of civilization.

In the end, as humans, the only thing that can help us survive is to believe that the will to build will always be stronger than the desire to destroy." - Director Zaradasht Ahmed


Fifteen years after the US-led invasion of Iraq the country continues to dominate the headlines with stories of sectarian violence, bombings, kidnappings, corruption and dire poverty, human displacement and a massive refugee crisis.

Institutions and infrastructures are breaking down, and the de-stabilization of the region continues to reach new areas. The country has become a breeding ground for new and diverging religious, ethnic and political conflicts that also spreads far beyond the Arabian Peninsula. A lot of land is now in the Islamic state’s (IS) hands; a seemingly undefined army of international jihadist, mercenaries, ex-military and clans that don’t seem to have any greater common long-term strategy than power and influence.

During the first years after the US invasion a war pattern was obvious: that being between the occupier and the opposition forces. But in 2006-8 there was a change in character; ethnic sectarianism flared up and the violence became increasingly unpredictable and random. Families, tribes and communities were divided, and it became difficult to distinguish friend from foe. How can one give a truthful picture of this state of war when the areas are forbidden “no-go”-zones, and the survivors are without a voice? By training and directing Nori Sharif to film his surrounding, this has become a possibility.

Format & Length

Feature Documentary

  • Director: Zaradasht Ahmed

  • Producer: Mette Cheng Munthe-Kaas

  • Co-Producers: Hans Husum, Stina Gardell

  • Photographers: Zaradasht Ahmed & Nori Sharif

  • Editor: Eva Hillström sfk

  • Additional photography: Fouad Baqi

  • Production Co-ordinator, Iraq: Fouad Baqi

  • Location Manager, Kalar Iraq: Hiwa Ali

  • Production Company: Ten Thousand Images

  • Co-Producers: Pasaremos, Mantaray Film

  • Distribution Services: East Village Entertainment, Diana Holtzberg

  • Festival Distribution: East Village Entertainment, Diana Holtzberg & Norwegian Film Institute, Toril Simonsen

Technical Specs

  • Duration: Festival 86 min / Tv Hour

  • Format: HD, DCP

  • Screen Ratio: 16:9

  • Sound Format: 5,1 Surround, Stereo

  • Languages: Arabic with english, norwegian subtitles



There are those films, which are wonderful to see and there are films that the world needs to see. The film we choose is both of these things. The experience was immersive and left us deeply touched. The director respected the unique perspective that only the subject could have and in doing so he gave us an unprecedented window into the real life lasting consequences of war.                          – IDFA Jury statement, November 23rd 2016


International Press – by most recent date

“It’s not an explanatory lesson about war, it does not provide answers; rather, it deepens the questions.”

– The New York review of Books, February 9th 2018

“Nowhere to Hide” – A Potent Documentary about the Never-ending War in Iraq”

-The Arts Fuse, December 06th 2017

“The 10 Best Movies of 2017”

– Vulture – New York Magazine, December 4th 2017

“Some of the images shown … stick in the mind, and there’s nowhere to hide.”

– Boston Globe, December 1st 2017

“Those looking for a preview of what the apocalypse might really be like should skip Hollywood blockbusters like “Blade Runner 2049” and “Thor: Ragnarok” and watch Zaradasht Ahmed’s slow-burning documentary “Nowhere to Hide”.

– Boston Globe, November 30th 2017

“This film is a telling slice of life, of people trapped in dangerous, chaotic circumstances. It is a unique collaboration between director Zaradasht Ahmed and Nori Sharif.”

– Laramie Movie Scope, November 29th 2017 

“Nowhere to Hide is breathtaking and the humanitarian side, ethic and integrity of his main protagonist in a world gone insane enhances its vision. It is an essential, engaging and heartbreaking film.”

–, November 10th 2017

“(…) a compelling testament to the resilience of the human spirit”

– Praire Messanger, September 17th 2017

“Nori inspired me — his life became more important than my life”

– Ira, August 23rd 2017

“After five vividly chronicled years, [Sharif] puts down the camera so Ahmed can bring his first-person story to the world.”

– Maven’s Nest, August 1st 2017

“The first thing is that we have to care. That’s essential, that’s the start. We start to think, listening to the other side. We have to care before that and then we listen”

– CBC Radio, July 29th 2017


– Chicago Reader, July 20th 2017

“Nowhere to Hide” makes it not just impossible, but unconscionable, to turn away.”

– Chicago Tribune, July 13th 2017

“Nowhere to Hide may not offer answers, but it does offer insight crucial for the outside world.”

– Washington City Paper, July 7th 2017

(★★★★  MASTERPIECE) “…offers a terrifying, ultimately moving portrait of the effects of war, both psychological and psychic.”

– The Washington Post, July 6th 2017

“Zaradasht Ahmed’s grueling documentary immerses the viewer”

– DCist, July 6th 2017

” [about] compassion and humanizing the victims of the ongoing conflict.”

– Face2Face Live, July 5th 2017

“An emotional affect that makes us feel what it means to lose someone”

– Mimi Geerges Show, July 3rd 2017

“The film is perhaps the best document of the consequences of the war in Iraq”

– Film Forward, July 2nd 2017

“an up close picture of the chaos any war anywhere can bring.”

– Vancouver Observer, June 30th 2017

“A compelling story which shows a close up look at the victims of the Iraq war.”

– Get Reel Movies, June 30th 2017

“For all the death, pain, sorrow and destruction, it is also a film infused with love and hope.”

– Klymkiw Film Corner, June 30th 2017

“Incredibly intense”

– Wylie Writes, June 30th 2017

“[Sharif] is no longer reporting on the sufferers of warring. He’s become one.”

– Globe & Mail, June 30th 2017

“A testament to the human spirit”

– Film Week, June 30th 2017

“Nori’s narrative represents persistence, hope and faith.”

Film School Radio, June 30th 2017

“There are few more terrifying things to think about than what it must be like to live in [war]”

– Toronto Film Scene, June 30th 2017

“Nowhere to Hide” offers an uneasy prognosis that is at once graphically gut-wrenching and doggedly life-affirming”

– Los Angeles Times, June 29th 2017

“Nowhere To Hide offer[s] a sombre and much-needed redress to our myopia.”

– National Post, June 29th 2017

“An emotionally powerful examination of the price of conflict”

– Toronto Star, June 29th 2017

“An immersive look at life in Iraq after the U.S. pulled out,”

– Now Toronto, June 28th 2017

” If you want to know why some people must keep running, this is a good place to start.”

– Straight, June 28th 2017

“Some great documentaries cut through the inessentials and help you make sense of an apparently senseless world. Others have the opposite effect: They shock you into an even greater confoundment, demonstrating, moment by moment, how irrational the world really is. Nowhere to Hide is in the latter camp. It’s an “experiential” doc, a first-person view of the disintegration of Iraq as it happens…very beautiful guitar soundtrack… No one can make sense of what is happening to this and other families. But they must film it.”

– New York Magazin/Vulture, June 24th 2017

THE NEW YORK TIMES CRITICS’ PICKS: “Raw immediacy that’s both appropriate and involving…gripping portrait…buoyed by Mr. Sharif’s cheery personality”

– The New YorkTimes, June 23rd 2017

“Finally, a powerful, unforgettable documentary…unflinching… Nowhere to Hide allows for you to empathize with everyone on screen regardless of your political stance. This doc isn’t about politics nor does it try to find any solutions. What it does do is far more important: it puts a human face on the victims of war while allowing for you to empathize with them. You’d have to be made out of stone to not shed a tear when see their predicament. It’s amazing how Sharif and other Iraqis don’t give up hope despite all of the tragedies that they, their friends and loved ones endure…gripping, moving and, above all, profoundly human.”

– Movie Guru, June 23rd 2017

“A personal tour through daily life in Iraq.”

– What Not to Doc, June 23rd 2017


“A very disturbing yet true picture of the sufferings of [Nori Sharif’s] people.”

– Festival Reviews, June 22nd 2017

“Both (Nori) Sharif and (Zaradasht) Ahmed make sure audiences leave Nowhere to Hide well aware that Iraq remains a war zone —one where innocent people remain caught in the crossfire.”

The Village Voice, June 21st 2017

“Above all the film is a testament to the human will to survive as the Iraqi people continue to hope despite their struggles and suffering.”

Victoria Advocate, June 20th 2017

“My ambition is to let the audience reflect on the human consequences of a brutal reality where all taboos are violated.”

– Screen Anarchy, June 13th 2017

“The power of Ahmed’s movie lies in large part with his decision to illustrate the war’s symptoms with compassion and understanding”

– PopMatters, June 9th 2017

“It is worth changing your plans to see courageous filmmaking at its best”

– Counterpunch, June 9th 2017

“The sense of Iraq as one big rubble heap may be familiar from the American media; Nori’s ability to depict it from the inside is something new.”

– Gay City News, June 8th 2017

“At the heart of this film is the battle between duty and safety, […] and makes this a superlative documentary feature.”

– Criterion Cast, June 8th 2017

“Shining Light and Hope in a world fallen into darkness and corruption… shocking account of the consequences left by the American Invasion in Iraq, a male nurse exposes the physical and emotional damage of innocent civilians, adults and children, wounded during war conflicts. Alarming and efficient, Director Zaradasht Ahmed gives the nurse, Nori Sharif, a camera, allowing him to film the unimaginable. Alarming and efficient.”

– Brazilian Press, June 8th 2017

“a powerful first-hand look at the effects that war and the ISIS insurgency in Iraq have had upon the population”

– CBS News, June 8th 2017

“While the film deals with the cost of war it is also about the human spirit to go on. The final images had me tearing up”

– Unseen Films, June 7th 2017

“I really hope the film will move audiences to further humanize the body counts we hear very briefly about”

– Salon, June 6th 2017

“…a candid documentary on the current situation in Iraq.”

– ItsJustMovies, June 4th 2017

“A laser-sharp documentary on the impact on civilians of five years of war and destruction in Iraq.”

– Spirituality and Practice, June 2017

“There can be only one true memorial to war — peace.”

– Reader Supported News, May 30th 2017

“an immersive and uncompromising first-hand reflection”

– Dart Center, May 30th 2017

 ★★★★ “A profoundly brave film.”

– Seattle Times, May 17th 2017

“Above all the film is a testament to the human will to survive as the Iraqi people continue to hope despite their struggles and suffering.”  

– Sydney Morning Herald, April 30th 2017

“Humans always have more power to build than to destroy.”

– BBC World Service, March 19th 2017

“To help Iraq, [the] Western world must connect with its everyday people.”

– Reuters, March 17th 2017

“All those people needed for their cases not to just vanish — they’re human. They’re victims of something they never asked for.”

– BBC Radio 4, March 17th 2017

“Nowhere to Hide” will […] inspire change, by helping people consider the human consequences of and our global responsibility towards this war.“

– Middle East Monitor, March 10th 2017

“[T]he threat of violence usually lurks just off screen in “Nowhere to Hide” a quality that […] makes it all the more powerful.”

– Daily Camera, March 5th 2017

“Shattered bodies prove easier to fix than broken countries in Zaradasht Ahmed’s Nowhere to Hide, a first-person immersion in five turbulent years in the life of an Iraqi medic Nori Sharif … landed the top prize in IDFA’s keenly contested Feature-Length Competition and looks set for a busy festival career in the months ahead. Niche theatrical distribution also is potentially in the cards, while small-screen options reportedly include the 86-minute version premiered in Amsterdam and a 60-minute TV edit. Prospects of exposure on all platforms and outlets are boosted by the fact that developments in this particularly febrile corner of the world look sure to feature prominently in global news media for the foreseeable future. A brief prologue provides a striking introduction to main protagonist and chief cameraman Nori Sharif, who emerges from the Diyala Desert in a manner reminiscent of his namesake Omar’s iconic entrance in Lawrence of Arabia…. Sharif’ story and personality hold the attention— as Tom Clancy has a character remark about Jack Ryan, he is by any measure “a good man in a storm,” unblinking eyewitness to an epoch lethally brimming with clear and present dangers”. 

– Hollywood Reporter, November 29th 2016

“Nowhere To Hide should be required viewing for anyone with an opinion about the refugee crisis.”

– Screen Daily, November 28th 2016

“Startling and moving… Sharif’s compassionate and poetic documentation, told with unflinching honesty, presents a humanistic portrait of a troubled people very different from the news images broadcast around the world during the last few decades. Sharif’s narrative is remarkable in many respects… his unobtrusive presence gives us access to the daily lives of ordinary people caught up in the ever-changing conflict; and because Sharif’s own life is so dramatically transformed during this period… his personal story takes on the dimensions of a Tolstoyesque novel, in which we profoundly sense and feel the events of war through the tragic details of a single life…Sharif’s sense of urgency to convey what has happened is combined with a measure of optimism and hope…he remains steadfast in his belief that “in the end the will to build will win over the forces of destruction.” His life-affirming comment brings to mind Anne Frank’s famous words in her iconic Holocaust diary: “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.  Just as the story of a single girl, hiding in an Amsterdam attic, helped open up the eyes of people around the world to the ordeal experienced by an entire people, it is to be hoped that this account of a hospital nurse and his family will provide a wide audience with a better understanding of who the people described in the news as “Middle Eastern refugees” really are. Although the film does not mention whether Sharif wishes to remain in Iraq or to seek a new life in Europe or elsewhere, it is hard to think of someone who could be a better citizen in any country. Hard-working, skilled and highly motivated, Sharif, like many of his fellow refugees, should not have nowhere to hide; instead, he really should have many places to go.” 

– Modern Times, November 27th 2016

“Nowhere to Hide takes no sides in its universal condemnation of the differences we imagine.”

– IndieNYC, November 24th 2016

“We went from a story with questions such as: “Is it possible to live in a war without fronts, without a visible army of only faceless solders?” to a personal story of one man and his family trying to survive a highly brutal warfare.”

-Interview with Zaradasht Ahmed, Kouzi Productions, November 24th 2016

“The experience was immersive and left us deeply touched.”

– Real Screen, November 23rd 2016

“Zaradasht Ahmed’s ‘Nowhere to Hide’ Takes Top Prize at IDFA… An insider’s account of the hellish aftermath of the Iraq war charts the path to today’s unsettled world” 

– Variety, November 23rd 2016

“There are those films, which are wonderful to see and there are films that the world needs to see. The film we choose is both of these things. The experience was immersive and left us deeply touched. The director respected the unique perspective that only the subject could have and in doing so he gave us an unprecedented window into the real life lasting consequences of war.”

– IDFA Jury statement, November 23rd 2016

“…the story of a man and his family trying to survive” …uncovering the “hidden human feeling” in the story… a “different kind” of war film – one looking at the experiences of “ordinary” people caught up in a conflict they’ve done nothing to provoke.”

– IDFA Daily, November 18th 2016

Norwegian Press

“Nowhere to Hide kan bli Oscar-kandidat”

– Stavanger Aftenblad, December 2nd 2017

“Det engasjerer og oppfordrer til refleksjon[.]”

– Natt og Dag, April 27th 2017

“Det Nori lykkes i å vise, er at alt blir verre for de sivile.”

– Kulturkritikk, March 20th 2017

“Innholdet i filmen passer godt til det vi i kirken står for, derfor ønsker vi å vise den.”

– Stavanger Aftenblad, February 25th 2017

“Det finnes filmer som er fantastiske å se, og filmer som verden behøver å se. Denne filmen er begge deler.”

– Rushprint, February 20th 2017

“Filmen «Nowhere to Hide» gir et nytt perspektiv på krigskaoset i Irak.”

– Klassekampen, February 17th 2017

“Vi satser på følelsen — at man finner seg i vannligmanns tragedie.”

– EKKO (NRK Radio), February 15th 2017

“Det er ikke så ofte man får muligheten til å se hvordan det er for sivile å havne i skuddlinjen i krig på denne måten.”

– Dagsavisen, February 14th 2017

“Vi håpe[r] at denne fortellingen om en sykepleier og familien hans kan gi et stort publikum en bedre forståelse av hvem menneskene bak betegnelsen «midtøstenflyktninger» virkelig er.”

– Ny Tid, January 12th 2017

“Når opptaksforholdene blir umulige, kan alternativet være å utstyre noen i de aktuelle miljøene med kamera.

– Rushprint, January 5th 2017

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