(director/writer: Zane Akyol; cinematographer: Nicolas Canniccioni/Arshia Shakiba; editor: Mathieu Bouchard-Malo; music: Roger Tellier-Craig;  Runtime: 127; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Zane Akyol, Sylvain Corbell, Audrey-Ann Dupuis-Pierre; Icarus Films; 2022-Canada-in English, Kurdish, French, German, Arabic, with English subtitles)

“Despite its fair-minded approach, there’s no fresh insights.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The war-themed documentary is set in post-war Syria by the female Kurdish Canadian filmmaker Zane Akyol (“Gulistan, Land of Roses”).

The well-crafted documentary shows the Kurdish soldiers overtaking ISIS, and features revealing interviews with the imprisoned jihadists in a Syrian make-shift prison. Their brutal terrorist regime is called to task by those doing the interviews of the 12 or so prisoners, from all over the world, for the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF). The captives tell in their own words how they were indoctrinated to join such an evil extremist Islamic group. Some admit to being killers but few, if any, show any remorse. 

Despite its fair-minded approach, there’s no fresh insights. I’m not sure listening to them helps us understand such recalcitrant terrorists any better. I think it’s more upsetting to hear them speak so freely, especially when all they do is mouth hateful messages that are still ingrained in them. Even if I have no objection to making such a film I don’t see any reason for seeing it, especially since there’s little chance of understanding them any better. I don’t need to see this film to know they’re monsters.

It played at Hot Docs.

REVIEWED ON 12/13/2023  GRADE: B-