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“When you are brainwashed, you don’t realize it until you snap out of it. I took everything too fast, and too deep.” - Hoda Muthana, film participant, The Return: Life After ISIS
Hoda Muthana and Shamima Begum made world headlines after leaving their homes in the US and UK as teenagers to join the extremist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS. The Return: Life After ISIS is a unique portrait of a group of Western women who pledged their lives to ISIS, but now want to return home to restart their lives. While facing hostile journalists and governments who have left them de-facto stateless, the women confront their truths and try to heal from their trauma in a locked camp in northeast Syria, with the help of Kurdish women’s rights activists. With its rare access to Roj camp, this film is a sensitive portrayal of just a few of the 63,000 women and children held, in dire conditions with no due process, as ISIS suspects and family members in northeast Syria by a Kurdish-led armed group.
“This film cuts through the stereotypes about Western women who joined ISIS and makes a compelling case for bringing them home. In the process, it reveals an unusual sisterhood between these women and a Kurdish social worker who helps them even though ISIS sought to destroy her community.” – Letta Tayler, associate director, Crisis and Conflict Division, Human Rights Watch
Nominee, Grand Jury Award, SXSW 2021
Thank you to everyone who joined our digital film festival screening + live Q&A on May 20. You can still watch the film at your own pace until May 27, and view the recording of the Q&A with filmmaker Alba Sotorra Clua, Kurdish Feminist Activist Sevinaz Evdike and Letta Tayler, Associate Director, Crisis and Conflict, HRW and Maya Foa, Joint Executive Director, Reprieve, moderated by Azadeh Moaveni, Author of Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS, and Director of the Gender and Conflict Project, International Crisis Group here on our Vimeo page
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