A Stranger Came to Town

A film by: Thomas Vroege

A sad, poetic account of the complex reality of the conflict in Aleppo and the ruinous battles that followed.

Complex realities can never be reduced to a simple conflict between good and evil—and certainly not in the case of the war in Syria. Interviews with four inhabitants of Aleppo form the backbone of this cinematic essay about the chaos in the country. The images of a city in ruins—a gray haze filtering them like dust from the bombed-out buildings on the lens— are accompanied by the lamentations of mourning female voices. Three of the four interviewees joined the Free Syrian Army, which was formed to fight against Assad’s regime. They discuss the first big demonstration in 2012, how this rebel army took shape and how gangs of regime thugs tortured them. They go on to talk about fleeing to the West, while we see discomforting infrared shots of masses of people on the move. The fourth interviewee saw the conflict develop from his apartment, and he’s critical of the rebels— initially a cause célèbre in the Western media, they were rapidly infiltrated and radicalized by terrorists and jihadists. He’s the only one who stayed behind in Aleppo.

Country: the Netherlands
Length: 70’
Completion: 11/2017
Genre: documentary
Screening format: DCP, H264, ProRes
Spoken language: Arabic
Subtitles: English

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  1. International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, the Netherlands (15 – 26 November, 2017)
    IDFA Competition For Dutch Documentary
  2. Movies that Matter, the Netherlands (23 – 31 March, 2018)
    Dutch Movies Matter Competition
  3. Nederlands Film Festival, Netherlands (27 September – 5 October, 2018)
    Gouden Kalf Competition

Director: Thomas Vroege
Producer: Halal Docs: Olivia Sophie Van Leeuwen, Gijs Kerbosch, Roel Oude Nijhuis, Gijs Determeijer