With deeply personal access, this is the untold story of a brave group of citizen journalists forced to live undercover, on the run, and in exile—risking their lives to stand up against one of the most violent movements in the world today. City of Ghosts follows the efforts of anonymous activists in Syria who banded together to form a group named “Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently” (RBSS) after their homeland was taken over by the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014. Finding safety is no easy task either, as growing anti-refugee sentiment in Europe greets them with anger and rejection and ISIS pledges to target them wherever they go. Terror, trauma, and guilt similarly follow the men at the center of the film, having left loved ones behind to expose the horrors happening in their town. The strength and brotherhood that bonds the men is clear: the film is full of affecting intimacy and humanity in a situation where little else can be found. Screening followed by discussion with filmmaker Matthew Heineman and Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa Executive Director, Human Rights Watch.

“Matthew Heineman’s film shows us the valor of ordinary Syrians putting their lives on the line to document the brutality of ISIS as it rules their city, Raqqa. The film reconnects us to the human toll inflicted by the war in Syria, through the personal journeys of young citizen journalists who are driven from their homes but remain tethered to the country’s struggle for freedom and justice.”

—Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director, Middle East and North Africa Division, Human Rights Watch

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