Hot Docs 2017: City of Ghosts

Matthew Heineman. USA. 91 min. More Info.

Have you ever seen a documentary – scratch that, any type of film in general – that made you feel every single kind of emotion. One that made you laugh, cry and feel almost every single kind of emotion possible? Well, I did get a chance to see a film like that today, and that film went by the intimidating but fitting title of City of Ghosts.

This documentary is an absolute triumph. I saw this on a whim to kill some time between shows and little did I know it would be one of my favourites from the festival. Filmmaker Matthew Heineman manages to be tasteful while dealing with this extremely heavy topic. Instead of throwing in endless, tasteless footage of brutal executions, he lets the audio cry out in the background and focuses on the faces of the ones viewing these brutal acts. Which is an extremely clever way to convey the terror our subjects are feeling.

City of Ghosts is not just masterfully crafted on a technical level, it is also just an enjoyable film that also serves as a very detailed lesson on the current state in Syria and the brave souls attempting to help the country. The best part is that it remains emotionally involving for the entire runtime, this is mainly due to our subjects lives constantly being at risk. Whether it be killing the people close to them or just the terrifying thought of knowing that this is something that is actually happening around the world, you can definitely count on the film to never contain a dull moment.

This might have too “mainstream” a film for some of the more hardcore festival-goers but if you ever see this one on television sometime (which you most likely will) I really recommend checking this one out.
Rating: 9/10


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