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Film Review: ‘City of Ghosts’ Puts Citizen Faces on Syrian Crisis

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

CHICAGO – Syria has become a distant place, disconnected from the wider world through civil war and extreme sociopolitical instability, including the takeover of some regions by ISIS (the Islamic State). “City of Ghosts” looks at Raqqa, a Syrian city with the iron boot of ISIS on their necks, and the citizens who risk their lives to tell that story to the world.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

The director and storyteller is Matthew Heineman, whose “Cartel Land” was nominated for the Best Documentary Oscar in 2016. He relies on the profiles of the “Citizen Journalists” from Raqqa to expose the situation – men with extreme loyalty to their fellow citizens – who continue to find the stories and leak the atrocities of ISIS to a world that must know, to bring about any change. The documentary is eye-opening, especially if your knowledge of the situation is at the bigger picture level. We’ve heard of the instability, the refugees and “Syria” in the background of our lives, but “City of Ghosts” understands it at a human level. The wolf is at the door, and it is traveling farther and coming closer.

In 2011, protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began, with activists demanding transparency and democratic reforms (the al-Assad family had been ruling the country since 1971). These protests escalated into armed insurrection, and factions broke off into a civil war, both for/against the al-Assad regime and against each other. One of the rebel groups is ISIS (the Islamic State), and they began to get a foothold into certain regions.

As portrayed in the film, the City of Ghosts is Raqqa, a pawn in the ongoing fighting between ISIS and opposition rebels. ISIS is a totalitarian governing and social force, and the killing of any suspected opposition is random, rapid and voluminous. Enter the citizen journalist… “City of Ghosts” profiles the men who risk their lives within and outside the city, to inform the world through their organization “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.” (RBSS).

“City of Ghosts” continued its limited release in Chicago on on July 21st. See local listings for theaters and show times, and for more screening information, click here. Directed by Matthew Heineman. Rated “R”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “City of Ghosts”

Citizen Journalists Oversees Raqqa, Syria, in ‘City of Ghosts’
Photo credit: IFC Films

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “City of Ghosts”

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