(opening remarks by Hawai‘i AG Doug Chin)
J20+ is once again partnering with the Doris Duke Theatre, in support of their principled stance against President Trump's Muslim Ban. City of Ghosts brings attention to the real-life consequences of the Muslim Ban, under which no refugees from anywhere in the world are currently able to enter the US; and President Trump's withdrawal of US support for the opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Syrians fleeing Assad's murderous regime constitute the world's largest group of refugees.
City of Ghosts is an unprecedented, on-the-ground transmission from the front lines of one of the most important battles of our time: the fight against the Islamic State. It is 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.
Selected quotes from reviews:
"Matthew Heineman's return to Sundance after his Oscar-nominated Cartel Land is a triumphant one. 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
"Heineman pulls no punches on showing the brutality that is enacted by the radical group, and it makes for an extremely effective doc with such a personal core." Roger Ebert
"Heineman offers up a double portrait of devastation, of a truly destroyed city and of partially decimated survivors, leaving the viewer with an empathetic sense of deep sorrow." Hollywood Reporter
"Heineman poignantly weaves together big-picture themes with intimate events...a powerful reminder of how essential freedom of the press really is, and how easily it can be taken away." AV Club
"What City of Ghosts does best is to humanize those who've suffered most from the conflict in Syria, educating us through both outrage and compassion." Variety
"This story should be required viewing for anyone engaging in discussion of the refugee 'problem'... a profound study in bravery" New York Post
"The experience of watching City of Ghosts is similar to Cartel Land in that you remain wide-eyed, jaw dropped the entire time...Ultimately, the film quietly asserts itself and the work of RBSS as crucial weapons in the fight against ISIS. If ISIS is fighting a war of propaganda, banning satellite dishes and internet access and cameras, those are the tools that the citizens can and must use to resist these forces, to expose their truth." The Playlist
"Timely, pressing, important." Seattle Times
"Ghosts becomes a portrait of true, and terrifying, heroism - but with a devastating personal and emotional price." Flavorwire