ON SCREEN // HOP FILM
City of Ghosts
Director Matthew Heineman ’05 (Cartel Land) follows brave group of citizen journalists as they risk their lives to fight ISIS with their own media campaign—and the truth.
City of Ghosts is an unprecedented, on-the-ground transmission from the frontlines of one of the most important battles of our time: the fight against the Islamic State. It’s a war being waged not only on the ground, but in the digital trenches of social media. Academy Award-nominated director Matthew Heineman (Cartel Land) takes viewers into the war zone of ISIS-occupied Syria, where a band of anonymous activists known as Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) wage a counteroffensive against the terrorist group’s campaign of propaganda and misinformation. Armed with video cameras, these intrepid citizen journalists risk their lives to spread the truth about life under ISIS. The unforgettable images they’ve captured and the stories they have to tell are a wake-up call to the world.
D: Matthew Heineman ’05, US, 2017, 1h32m
We saw this film at the Nantucket Film Festival and were blown away, both by Matthew Heineman’s stunning access and by the courage of the young men risking everything to save their city. This film is harrowing and intensely violent—but it is also extremely moving to see the people of Syria, whom the media often lump together with the enemies they’re fighting, portrayed as heroic, passionate advocates for freedom and peace.
These reviews further praise the film’s celebration of citizen journalist activism:
“As Americans continue to debate about a compulsively tweeting president, strict immigration policies and efforts to manipulate an often easily distracted media, City of Ghosts provides a grim reminder of what journalism should look like, and why its stakes are literally life and death.” —Washington Post
“Where his previous film was a journalistic masterclass in taking access to the extreme, City of Ghosts instead turns the camera on heroic journalists themselves. In doing so, Heineman may have made the definitive contemporary documentary about the tragedy of Syria, as well as an epoch-defining piece on modern media tactics.” —The Guardian
—Sydney and Johanna, Hop Film