MOVIE REVIEW: City of Ghosts

No holds barred Documentary showing the resistance against the Islamic State in the town of Raqqa in Syria.  We follow the activists of Raqqa is being Slaughtered Silently which was set up to show how the ISIS occupiers came into the town and placed their feet on the throats of the locals.  With the whole world ignoring the plight at first a small band of young men gathered together to film and share with the world.  These young men then had to flee their city, something that they didn’t think they’d ever have to do, and kept up the fight in Turkey and Germany.  We follow them as they are basically hunted as they continue to share with the world the horror of their home town.

From the Director of the fascinating documentary from last year Cartel Land comes another tale of the struggle that we humans find ourselves in.  As the Assad leadership is toppled in the year 2012, and it’s shown that during the rush to be free there is a vacuum of power, in which ISIS came in and declared itself ruler.  The people in Raqqa are put under severe restrictions and persecution of their lives by these zealots who want to enforce their vision of Islam, not the true religion, but their vision.

A good documentary keeps you entertained throughout the running time and informs you, while a great documentary will shock you into wanting to find out more.  This is a great documentary and the footage that is caught through smartphones of the horrors of Raqqa, just one of the towns that are being occupied, will haunt me for weeks.  You think that you’ve seen it all with the Syrians fleeing and the deaths of those trying to cross the waters to Europe but there are moments here that open your eyes to the point that you are left feeling guilty.  We thought as we saw these children, women, and men in overcrowded boats crossing the sea that they were trying to get a better life.  I couldn’t stand living under that system for an hour.  No TV, no internet, no dancing, no music, no questioning the system.  All the comforts that we take for granted have been taken away.  Then you add to this no food, no hospitals, and random beatings and executions.

The young men who started the #RIBSS movement are forced to flee their town and country, and some are living in Turkey, while their spokesman is living in Germany.  Their families back home are living in terror, being tortured for the sins of their kin.  We follow the interior movement, a small group of patriots who stayed behind to report under the harshest conditions, and the exterior movement the young men and their families who have fled to survive, but live in constant fear for their lives.  In one moment about half way through the refugee activists experience a true moment of happiness, a rare thing since their fleeing of Raqqa.  This makes you smile and then a thought crosses your mind about how fleeting that moment is for them, and how we take those for granted.

This documentary places you into the heart of the Syrian crisis, it’s hard to watch at times and yet you fear to look away, you want to be as brave as the activists but you know you aren’t.  We’re learning that although this horror is going on thousands of miles away from where we sit in peace and relative freedom, that this could happen nearly anywhere.  We sit back in our chairs, at pubs, and at coffee shops and talk like we know anything of the plight of refugees, we hear friends and family spout the nonsense that we’re doing enough.

I cannot urge you enough to support this documentary, to have a look behind the curtain of what the Media wants you to see to push their own ends, and see the truth, to see that bravery sometimes means running away, that courage is saying ‘Love one another!’.  Watch, share, learn something.

Director: Matthew Heineman


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