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Hot Docs 2021: “Imad`s Childhood”


Rating: 4 out of 5.

A child’s mind can be easily messed up if we’re not careful. Their brain is like a sponge that keeps absorbing information of any kind. Imagine what happens if a little one ends up in a wrong environment that’s dangerous, vicious and violent?

“Imad’s Childhood” is a real-life horror story of a five-year-old Yazidi boy, who no longer is himself after nearly three years in ISIS captivity. He is ill-mannered, violent, and if had a gun, would shoot anybody down for not accommodating his demands. A painful and hopeful portrayal of a boy who gradually learns to get back to normal. But what does that normal life mean is something he had to display immense courage to find out.

Imad’s mother, Ghazala, was held hostage too, but in the meantime was sold ten times, if not more, to multiple men. As a sex slave, heavily traumatized, injured from inside out, she, with great pain watches how her son turns into the image of an ISIS soldier; and if not interfered with, will become too dangerous to walk free. Also, Ghazala hopes of the return of her loving husband, Sharaf, which with every passing day seems likely to happen.

“Imad’s Childhood”, is a powerful and deeply disturbing documentary from director Zahavi Sanjavi, that shows how damaged a child can become if raised in a brainwashed environment. Imad is literally a walking bomb waiting to explode. But when child psychologists get involved, we note big changes in Imad, and that will bring tears to your eyes. It’s not easy to watch Imad keep spitting on his mother, beating up children, and showing everybody he is not somebody to mess with. But as you watch him, you know he is a nice and gentle boy, a personality that is being heavily trapped under the abusive and traumatized child. A child, who had to witness beheadings and killings to grow up thinking it is a part of daily activity he must get used to.

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