Sophie Deraspe's A Gay Girl In Damascus explores the story of Amina Arraf, a Syrian activist whose blog 'A Gay Girl in Damascus' gained a worldwide following during the Syrian uprising. While some probably know the story itself, considering it was well documented across major media news, the film peels back the layers of this incredible story, offering up a host of fascinating questions about the sensationalist media, activism, and most importantly the dangers and troubling aspects of so many people growing increasingly accustomed to spending their lives in the digital world. In the beginning the film takes on the perspective of Santa Bagaria to a large degree, a Montreal professional who became involved in an online romance with Amina. Through Sarah's eyes, The Gay Girl In Damascus feels more like a thriller, as Sarah explains the details of Amina, a Syrian activist, who was abducted by Syrian secret police, leaving Sarah, who cared for her very much, alone only to fear the worst. Amina's blog had reached worldwide notice at this point, and through this segment of the film it brings up fascinating discussions about the power of the internet, with social media becoming a major tool against oppressive regimes -a way for activists to get their message out to the world. A Gay Girl In Damascus captures the weight and tension of living under an oppressive regime, showing how the power of a single voice can influence many others, encouraging them to speak out due to feeling the same way. It is at this point that that the film truly reveals itself, essentially being the most insane catfishing ever documented, one that was able to involve major global media, government intelligence agencies, other activists, and of course Sarah, a woman who had fallen in love. A Gay Girl In Damascus almost feels like scavenger hunt through the interwebs, a detective story where the smallest details reveal the true man behind Amira, a white activist who was living in Stone Mountain, Georgia at the time, who may or may not have some psychological issues. What is so compelling about this film is that it is a personal story of a woman who feels betrayed while simultaneously speaking to more global concerns about morality, activism, and the internet. The persona of Amira's struggle that was created by this man was completely a hoax, but that doesn't mean that everything he created wasn't actually happening at the time to others. This is a film that captures the absolute danger in this, revealing how this hoax hurt the credibility of the true Syrian activists, distracting the major media from the true cause. Having something to say about our agenda driven society, The Gay Girl In Damascus shows how both people themselves and major news organizations do things for themselves, with the 24 hour news cycle moving on from Syria due to their inability for sensationalism. The story gets even more unbelievable as it progresses, just with how far the lies spread, with Sandra being almost the sole victim besides society for letting this type of thing happen. Having a strong cinematic language, The Gay Girl From Damascus is a though-provoking study of human behavior, agenda-driven society, being rather thought-provoking in the number of topics it discusses.
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