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Sweden · 2021
1h 30m
Director Hogir Hirori
Genre Documentary

73,000 ISIS supporters are held at Al-Hol in northeastern Syria, making it the most dangerous camp in the Middle East. Carrying only a mobile phone and a small gun, Mahmud, Ziyad and other volunteers risk their lives to rescue the women and girls kept in the camp as Sabaya (sex slaves).

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The Film Stage by

Tense and gripping, Hogir Hirori’s documentary Sabaya never positions itself as a thriller. There’s no need. Barring a few cards of scene-setting exposition, this vital dispatch embeds viewers with a rescue operation in the Middle East, and does so with a degree of first-person access that’s not just instantly bold: it’s nerve-janglingly scary.


Film Threat by Alex Saveliev

With unparalleled verisimilitude, Hirori captures both the helplessness and the resolve it takes to see past it, to hold on to a glimmer of hope, faint as it may be. Sabaya will leave you scarred, its images scorched forever into your mind.


The Hollywood Reporter by Inkoo Kang

With the risks to both the filmmaker and his subjects on full display, it’s an impressively exciting and strikingly novel approach in chronicling a humanitarian crisis that has yet to receive its due.


Variety by Jessica Kiang

Sabaya is remarkable not least for how cleanly Hirori excises himself from it, careful to not get in between the viewer and these devastating stories with their 10 different flavors of heroism.


CineVue by Matthew Anderson

Sabaya does not shy away from the horrendous circumstances it finds, exhibiting bitterly raw emotion, fear and heartbreak very frankly.


Screen Daily by Wendy Ide

Remarkable access and nerves of steel (on the part of both the subjects and of filmmaker Hogir Hirori) makes for a riveting documentary which is as tense as it is revealing.

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