The documentary introduces us to Montrealer Sandra Bagaria, who is having an erotic and intellectual online romance with Amina Arraf, a Syrian-American woman living in Damascus. As the Syrian uprising continues to rise, Arraf launches the blog A Gay Girl in Damascus, which overnight became a source for news media reports for on-the-ground stories of resistance.
Arraf and Bagaria’s online romance becomes very intense, very quickly. The situation becomes even more complicated with news that Arraf has been ‘kidnapped’ by local security officers. At this point, Bagaria begins a campaign to free Arraf with the help of her friends, media, and other online Amina supporters.
Without giving away too many details, what at first appears like a very serious case in the midst of the Syrian uprising turns into something more out of a film. The woman Bagaria believes to have an online relationship with is not whom she thinks. Here, the documentary takes a turn and becomes more about unraveling the mystery of who Amina Arraf really is…or isn’t.
Bagaria takes us around the world to hear from various journalists, bloggers, and others who supported Amina and her blog. What we hear in these interviews is not what many imagine. The story that unfolds becomes more about the extent an individual can use an online persona to manipulate others, and in turn, affect the lives of many around the globe. The fact media sources used the blog A Gay Girl in Damascus, as a main source to document the then current situation in Syria without fact checking proved to be quite the mishap. As well, there is an encounter between Bagaria and the ‘real’ Amina Arraf face-to-face, which does not resolve things. But it is still interesting to be privy to this encounter.
Director Sophie Deraspe‘s hybrid-documentary, with its reenactments, interviews, and confrontations is not sharing anything new. However, it does add the on-going dialogue about how online interactions can overtake someone’s life, and also addresses the point that media can often miss the mark when reporting about specific individual’s stories without corroborating facts. In this social media world, one cannot be too careful. The Amina Profile will certainly leave you with many questions worth discussing.
The Amina Profile is currently playing at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.
- Release Date: 8/21/2015
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