#chicagoGirl -- The Social Network Takes on a Dictator

Joe Piscatella, USA / Syria, 2013, color, DCP, 74'

A 19-year-old student named Ala'a Basatneh has been helping to coordinate the Syrian revolution from a suburb of Chicago since 2011, armed with all imaginable social media. And with 1,200 Facebook friends and 2,000 followers on Twitter, she has built up an impressive network. She posts demonstrations as Facebook events, plots escape routes using Google Maps and uploads footage shot by demonstrators. She also ensures that all kinds of recording equipment get to her friends, once ordinary students who now want to overthrow the rule by terror of President Bashar al-Assad. But what began as peaceful protest has escalated into a violent situation. We follow both Ala'a Basatneh and her Syrian friends throughout the crucial months. We see her friends mostly through their own footage, which gives a terrifying impression of brutal violence, death and devastated streets. The story of the young Syrians is accompanied by commentary from a range of experts in the fields of Syria, war, journalism and social media. What influence is the Internet having on the phenomenon of revolution? Why is a camera more effective than an AK-47? And why did the regimes in Egypt and Tunisia fall within a matter of days, while the Syrian regime is still holding out?

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