When Syrian blogger Amina Arraf is reportedly kidnapped, her girlfriend Sandra Bagaria searches the world for her, only to find that the truth she seeks is more complicated than it seems.
Sophie Deraspe’s documentary A Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile is a stunning and captivating account of the internet and media’s impact on the circulation of information during a time of uprising and protests. The film, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January, details the reported kidnapping of Syrian-American blogger Amina Arraf for her anti-regime comments on her blog, “A Gay Girl in Damascus.” Amina developed an online relationship with Canadian activist Sandra Bagaria, and the film tells the story of Amina through Sandra’s perspective as she grapples with the heartbreaking truth about her girlfriend’s disappearance and identity.
A Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile is fascinating look into the influence of technology on revolution, regardless of whether or not you know the film’s biggest spoiler prior to seeing it. It tracks Amina’s story: her budding relationship with Sandra, her kidnapping, and the eventual reveal of who she really is. In the beginning, Sandra is interviewed about her relationship with Amina, but as the film progresses, Sandra becomes the interviewer as she travels across the globe to talk with others about their perspective, stake, and role in Amina’s story. Deraspe expertly weaves raw footage of the uprising, news coverage, and text conversations between Amina and Sandra in a fresh, interesting way, meeting the standard set by this enthralling story.
Without giving too much away, this film creates an exciting dialogue about the role technology plays in sharing information, the creation and preservation one’s identity, and documenting revolution. Identity can be a powerful tool, particularly when utilized online. It can be customized and crafted into anything, or anyone, you want. However, the loss of identity is the loss of power. The internet is a platform for discovering and sharing information rapidly, but its fast-paced nature fosters competition, leading some to post or broadcast quickly in the hopes of being first instead of checking to make sure all information is accurate and credible. These aren’t ground-breaking revelations, but A Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile is a beautifully complex presentation of these ideas.
The film opens in theaters July 24. The trailer can be found here.