Three Days in the Hole (United States, 19 min 55 sec)

Directed by: Candice Carella

Written by: Candice Carella; Desmond Nakano

Cast: Sara Vessal; Kally Khourshid; Amelia Rae

A young Yezidi girl, Luna, is captured during the the Islamic State’s siege of her home town Shingal/Sinjar, Iraq and sold as a slave. She must learn to survive in a windowless underground dungeon shared with two other captives, and with their help, she musters the strength required not only to stay alive, but to eventually escape for the sake of her people.

Review:

“Three Days in the Hole”, directed by Candice Carella, is a coming of age film about a young woman forced to mature earlier than most other young women her age amidst the crossfires of life - threatening political turmoil. Carella reflects a young woman’s journey to take back the control of her life for the sake of her family and her people. Through carefully crafted direction, she brings a narrative of a young girl who learns the meaning of sacrifice and fighting for others to life.

We are able to paint a vivid picture in our heads of Luna’s life before the Siege of Sinjar (also known as the Sinjar Massacre), which occured in August 2014 and resulted in the genocide and kidnapping of thousands of Yezidi people by the hand of ISIS. The film is an empowering tribute to the hardships Yezidi women of various ages face when terrorism threatens their livelihood. Recurring themes of family, loss, friendship, and love connect pressing issues facing Luna (played by Amelia Rae), to audiences of all ages.

Cleverly incorporated flashbacks give us an inside look at her relationships to others and with herself. An ethereal scene where Luna and her family peacefully eat together shows the audience what home looks like to her. This scene, as well as other scenes with her friends, family, and love interest piece together her innocence as a young teenage girl who had just begun to scrape the surface of adulthood.

The secret behind the film’s authentic set is Carella’s own extensive research, which is reflected in the smallest of details. From Yezidi oriented music, to the food on the character’s table, Carella pays close attention to the cinematography in a sensitive and respectful way, cleverly weaving what she finds into the film. The sets are full of vibrant color palettes and ethnically specific set dressing, clothing and props, which breathe life into the seemingly uniform tan desert background.

The Yezidi culture’s beauty is only exemplified through lighting and strategic close up shots. The lighting also accounts for integral moments in the story, often being used to add more depth to the character’s silhouettes. Flickering crimson lights create intimacy between the Luna and the other two Yezidi women, Bihar (played by Sara Vessal) and Yala (played by Kally Khourshid), who share their origin stories and learn to trust each other in order to escape. Strategic camera angles work with the audience’s perception of the size of the environment. Carella’s camera work does a thorough job of portraying the story in a unique way that engages the viewer.