Saturday, May 09, 2015

"A Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile" turns out to be another Catfish

A Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile” (directed by Sofie Deraspe) turns out to be another wild tale of fake journalism (with shades of “Catfish”), more than the obvious idea of anti-gay repression in a totalitarian Islamist country.
The “woman in the film”, who actually does hosts the QA at the Maryland Film Festival today in Baltimore,  Sandra Bagaria, lives in Montreal. She strikes an online friendship with a supposed Amina Arraf in Damascus, Syria, in 2011.  This was during all the rebellion against Assad, before ISIL started taking over nearby.  In fact, AR-Raqqah, the supposed “capital” of ISIL, is well to the East, but Damascus could be at risk, as in this story by Heather Saul  . 
Amina runs a blog, which attracts a lot of followers and comments (reminds me of "Gossip Girl"_.  She seems to follow the technical advice of “Blogtyrant” on Twitter.  One day, her followers learn she has been kidnapped by agents of Assad’s regime.
But in time, it turns out this is all a hoax, set up by an America, named Tom MacMaster (details ).  Here is a straight man pretending to be a lesbian.  Imagine the motives.  This part of the story got most of the attention in the QA.  
The film does show some live footage of life in Syria, and it isn’t pretty. But it isn’t hard to imagine a film that really does show life under ISIL in the occupied area (which CNN’s “Blindsided”, by Fareed Zakaria, not yet aired except for a featurette from a German filmmaker but due May 11, will do). 
The official site is here .(The film is known only as “The Amina Profile” in imdb).  The distributor right now is Sundance Selects.

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