City of Ghosts

First Hit:  A film that can teach the west about Raqqa, it's people and Syria’s fight against ISIS (Daesh).

What we hear about Daesh and their takeover of Raqqa, we learn from our press. Often it isn't quite right, but there is a group that is giving the world a view of what is really going on.

The citizens of Raqqa, an ancient city on the Euphrates River, took to Arab Spring, rallied against Syria’s oppressive President Bashar al-Assad and tore down his statue while declaring their freedom. However, this revolution left an opening for a strong leader to come in and create a new movement that promised a better life. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Aka: "ISIL", "ISIS" and "Daesh") under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s leadership started controlling Raqqa’s citizens with an Islamic iron fist. The life he promised the citizens failed to manifest.

He controlled the citizens by beheadings, shootings, and starving the citizens Raqqa in mass. This control came swift and hard and took the citizens by surprise. In retaliation, a group was formed called Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (http://www.raqqa-sl.com/en/). This group, a small handful of anonymous activists, came together to provide information about the cruelty of Daesh to the outside world by leveraging Facebook and other social media. Posting video, still pictures and commentary on the way Daesh is controlling the city via  their cruelty, this group is informing the world.

This film is about those anonymous activists. Although not so anonymous any longer we follow their escape from Syria to Turkey and Germany while their friends and family are being tortured and killed back home. This is a film of bravery and sadness. It is a film about love of country and the struggle for life.

Matthew Heineman superbly directed this story by putting together powerful pieces of video smuggled out of Syria and interviews. The long scenes of watching these activists staring at their screens waiting for the next piece of information to come from home were pointedly powerful. Revolution doesn’t always happen in a moment. but when a moment happens, they review it, edit it, and post it quickly.

Overall:  There are scenes in this film that are difficult and sad to watch, but it through these scenes we gain a needed understanding of this fight.