Liminal Fund


Jehane Noujaim


Development support


RADICALS tells the harrowing story of ISIS from the perspective of mothers of “foreign fighters”, grappling with the disruptive transformation of the world around them.

Radicals is in an intimate, observational documentary that tells the harrowing story of ISIS from the perspective of the mothers of “foreign fighters”, as they attempt to grapple with the sudden and disruptive transformation of the world around them, and in some cases fight to bring their children home. These mothers from all parts of the world and from different walks of life, have lost the most precious thing in their world. They end up finding each other through the guidance of programs created to bring mothers together and galvanize civil society. The women initially meet in order to make sense of how a generation of youth is being seduced by radical violence from their own bedrooms. RADICALS will document these families as they go through the process of pain, trauma, healing, and ultimately a coming together to try and stop this phenomena from spreading. While the world attention is often focused on the spectacle of radical youth and the threat they pose, this film will take you on the journey of those they left behind.

The greatest pain these young radicals inflict is upon those dearest to them. Their families take on the stark reality of their decision, while struggling to reconcile a world where their child is now considered an enemy of the state. Our characters have given us intimate access to one of the most delicate experiences in their lives: from reading the last message they have received from sons and daughters in Syria, to conversations with a child they no longer recognize, to walking us through their journey to “rescue” their children. The mothers of jihadists find their world uprooted, they are ostracized by their communities and unable to relate to the neighbors they once knew. From the most unlikely and horrible of situations, these mothers become transformative, inspiring figures who challenge the very idea that this cautionary tale is an inevitable disaster. Unwilling to let the horror of what they went through happen to others, we watch as they take on ISIS messaging with their own, challenge media narratives, and help rewrite government policy.