New films document Yemen's food crisis and life in mine-riddled Taez

What Remains of Me won the Best Story Award at a London film festival on Saturday

Jordanian-Yemeni filmmaker Nisreen Al Sbeihi Noman's film What Remains of Me, documents the stories of children that have lost limbs to mines in the city of Taiz. Credit: Nisreen Al Sbeihi Noman
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For much of her life, Jordan-born filmmaker Nisreen Al Sbeihi Noman has had strong ties to Yemen.

Having lived in the capital Sanaa with her husband from the country for a decade, she also holds citizenship there. She uses film to document the plight of innocent children and women who have been affected by Yemen’s civil war.

In late 2018, Al Sbeihi Noman spent three months there shooting footage, leading to four short films. Two of them were first shown last week and were nominated for several awards at North Europe International Film Festival in London.

Her first film, What Remains of Me, won the Best Story Award at the festival's ceremony over the weekend.

In the 20-minute film, she interviews several amputees in the city of Taez, where mines planted by the Houthi rebels regularly explode and harm civilians.

The filmmaker shows the viewer that mines are all over the city, in its hospitals, houses and schools.

They and hidden explosives that were designed to look like toys and tree trunks posed a challenge for Al Sbeihi Noman to safely navigate through its residential areas and shoot the footage.

The second film, Assem, is mainly based in Aslam, a part of the country where war has not broken out but is still heavily affected by the Houthi militia.

The documentary tells the heartbreaking stories of famished families who have had their food aid stolen by the Houthis to sell on the black market.

In one particularly shocking part of the film, Al Sbeihi Noman obtains secret footage inside a mosque where a Houthi supporter is teaching children to chant one of the movement’s slogans: "God is greatest, death to America, death to Israel, curse on the Jews, victory to Islam".

Although they are harrowing watching, Al Sbeihi Noman’s films raise awareness of Yemen’s crisis using powerful footage and anecdotes.

She tells The National that she wants her films to raise awareness globally so that the people of Yemen can be protected.

Jordanian-Yemeni filmmaker Nisreen Al Sbeihi Noman's film, Assem, she interviews famished families in the town of Aslam. Credit: Nisreen Al Sbeihi Noman
Jordanian-Yemeni filmmaker Nisreen Al Sbeihi Noman's film, Assem, she interviews famished families in the town of Aslam. Credit: Nisreen Al Sbeihi Noman

“When I meet filmmakers here [in the UK and the US], many of them have said the media of their countries doesn’t tell them everything,” Al Sbeihi Noman said.

“They know only that there is a war by Saudi Arabia and operated with the state, but nobody knows about Al Houthi.”

She said some filmmakers at the festival last week thanked her after watching the film for raising awareness about Yemen’s different warring factions.

Commenting on the mosque scene in Assem, she said: "These children will grow up with hate and wanting to kill people so I want to spread the message to help us save these children from this ideology.

"Because the war could stop today, tomorrow, in a month's time, but the ideology will not stop. We need support from these people to save children in Yemen.”