National Geographic has a way of showcasing humanity in a way you’ve never seen before. That is absolutely the case in the intense new short documentary Into the Fire, which follows a woman in Iraq who leads a team of deminers in their attempts to clear their land of mines.

Hana Khider and her all-female team of Yazidi deminers painstakingly search for booby traps in bombed out buildings and fields in an area of Iraq destroyed by ISIS. One wrong move for her or her team means certain death and Into the Fire conveys all that intensity to make you feel as though you’re right there with them.

The doc gives you a look at Hana’s life as she heartbreakingly describes the life she used to have before before ISIS destroyed their home. Right from the beginning you are fully invested in the well-being of this woman and her family, setting up some pulse-pounding, edge-of-your-seat moments for later in the documentary.

We then get a look at the destroyed homes of the Yazidi after the attacks from ISIS, as Hana explains that even after those attacks were finished, their pain did not end. With a member of her team at her side, Hana surveys the damage before the doc cuts to the start of her typical work day and begins to ramp up the intensity.

Once we join Hana and her team in the field where they search for mines, the danger and importance of their work becomes the sole focus. Watching her and her team using metal detectors to sweep for mines in the desert offers the same uneasy energy of the 2008 Academy Award-winning film The Hurt Locker, only in this case you are all too aware that it is real people putting their lives on the line.

Eerie silence is used throughout the doc to build suspense during some of these intense scenes. Whereas in past documentaries like Lost and Found, that was a bit of an issue, creating too much dead space in the short doc, in this one it is used perfectly. At times you may even hear your own heart pounding in your chest.

Into the Fire does take a break from the suspense for a while, but only to deliver another heartbreaking scene in which children are taught about the dangers of something as simple as picking up a toy they find. We even hear from a man who lost family because of these mines in a very emotional scene.

To cap off the documentary, we get the very satisfying ending of actually seeing what it looks like when one of these mines is set off when Hana’s team intentionally detonates one. It really hammers home the point of just how dangerous their job really is.

Into the Fire is one of the most powerful documentaries National Geographic has to offer. You’ll be on the edge of your seat watching Hana and her team do their work. And just to show you how much these people actually do, the doc finishes off with some pretty incredible statistics.

You can watch Into the Fire here.

 
 

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