Hot Docs 2014: Red Lines (2014)
It’s hard to forget the footage shown on news networks during the uprising in Syria. Fuzzy recordings of civilians protesting their dictator Bashar al-Assad in the streets, waving flags, chanting anti-regime mantras and clapping their hands, showed the world that this is a population who has taken it unto themselves to bring about change. Juxtapose that with raw footage uploaded to Youtube of the protestors being shot down en masse by Assad’s troops and soon Syria was the center of everyone’s attention. The world watched on as Assad continued killing these civilians, many of them children, through leaked videos of executions, relentless airstrikes and, perhaps the most vicious of all, the use of chemical weapons. The planet watched as all this happened, yet very few foreign governments decided to act on this. Instead, they decided that there was a very clear red line that shouldn’t be crossed.
Red Lines follows Razan Shalab al-Sham and Mouaz Moustafa as they give everything they’ve got to save the country they love. Born from very opposing tiers in Syrian society, the two eventually meet and combine forces to help make Syria a better place before everything is destroyed. Driving through towns reduced to rubble, passing by thousands of displaced and starving men, women and children, these two people help organize the stealthy transportation of humanitarian aid and weapons for the freedom fighters. Together they help to make Syria a more democratic country in their liberated areas, even going as far as to creating a civilian police force and courtroom. Mouaz, with his ties to Capitol Hill, does his best to have outside governments, from London to Cairo and Washington, intervene in this ever-escalating catastrophe, but is constantly turned away. The world is watching yet nothing is happening.
There has been a surge in documentaries about the Arab Spring, notably Five Broken Cameras (2011) and The Square (2013), and Red Lines easily ranks with the best. Directors Andrea Kalin and Oliver Lukacs create a powerful and provocative documentary, one that is still relevant today. Viewers be warned, the images shown here are explicitly graphic and nothing is held back. But, then again, maybe it’s footage like this that will help turn heads and make people realize that Syria is still in trouble. Razan and Mouaz need all the help they can get in this never-ending uphill battle, which easily makes this one of the most important films at this years Hot Docs.
Screening Times for Red Lines
Scotiabank Theatre 3 Tue, Apr 29 6:30 PM
Scotiabank Theatre 4 Wed, Apr 30 1:30 PM
ROM Theatre Fri, May 2 7:00 PM