CITY OF GHOSTS (director: Matthew Heineman; cinematographer: Matthew Heineman; editors: MatthewHeineman; music: Jackson Greenberg/H. Scott Salinas; cast: Hussam, Mohammad, Aziz, Hamoud; Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Matthew Heineman; Amazon Studios; 2017-UK-in Arabic, German and English, with English subtitles)
“Essential viewing.“ Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Directed, produced, and filmed by Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker Matthew Heineman (“Cartel Land”/”Our Time”). It’s a terrifying portrayal of a city under siege. It goes behind enemy lines in Syria to follow the brave hand-full of citizen journalist in a collective called “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently” as they attempt to expose the human rights violations by ISIS. It started in 2014 when they took over most of Syria and made Raqqa its capital–their showcase for their cruel punishments. The collective fights the terrorist group’s misinformation campaigns in their home country, as these courageous RBSS members, spokesman Aziz, cameraman Hamoud, and reporter Mohamad, risk torture and death and are forced to live undercover while on the run. They are now in exile (first Turkey and then in safe houses in Germany, with bounties on their heads, as they continue to publish abuse stories from exile).
The doc has deep access to the situation and includes RBSS clips depicting executions.
If you are concerned by the atrocities committed by the evil ISIS and the refugee problem, this film is essential viewing. But be warned, it’s a harrowing watch that sends a chilling message that ISIS must be stopped by military action.
REVIEWED ON 1/4/2018 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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