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A Film Diary

+ high-res version

Watched: 15 October

An often harrowing documentary by Matthew Heineman, who has followed up the successful drug trade reportage of Cartel Land with a film that relies more heavily on footage captured by other people. City Of Ghosts details the dangerous work being carried out by the Syrian citizen journalists of the organisation Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, who have been reporting on the atrocities being committed by the so-called Islamic State in their homeland for the past few years. Many of these journalists and their family members have been threatened, arrested or executed by IS, and the film mostly follows a half dozen who have made it out of the country (to Turkey, though they all eventually end up in Germany) and tries to portray the stressful circumstances in which they must carry out their lives. It’s a fascinating watch that lurches from the relative calm of the journalists’ ‘new’ lives in Europe (which do involve protests with the far right but also marriage, and childbirth) with the sickening footage that captures public executions, warnings and the indoctrination of children in Raqqa. It is, at times, every bit as harrowing as that would suggest. (****)

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