By Becky Brice
City of Ghosts
I was planning on writing another SCAB full of becommendations, but there’s only one thing I want to becommend this week. A documentary called ‘City of Ghosts’.
The whole ‘becommendation’ thing is the kind of childish fun me and Sara thrive off. But today it feels stupid and frivolous because of what I just watched. ‘City of Ghosts’ follows the story of ‘Raqqa is being slaughtered silently’, a website run by citizens of Raqqa exposing life in their city under ISIS. I’m not one for violence or explicate content and if I’d known it was going to be so bad I might not have watched it, so here is your warning. It is graphic. They show executions. They show bodies. So if that isn’t your thing, don’t watch.
But here are a few reasons why I decided to continue.
Firstly, this is their reality. They can’t look away, turn the TV off, decide that they’re not in the mood to watch. Violence surrounds the people, the kids, of Raqqa so I should at least give it my full attention from my safe, cushty life over here. In one scene a man watches an ISIS propaganda film where his father is executed. I reckon if he can watch it, I can.
Secondly, it’s very easy to get absorbed into our own lives, our own problems and worries. My worries this week have included; will I get a job, am I in the right industry, am I good and this, will I fuck up on portfolio day, will I look ok in that dress I’m wearing to the fancy event, will I get shoes to match, why won’t the printer work how I want it to, why won’t these spots go away, how much pizza is too much pizza to eat in one sitting, and the list goes on. Not one of them warrants the time I’ve spent worrying about them. But they have been all-encompassing. Which is why I love documentaries. They make other people’s worlds accessible. And they put everything into perspective. This one gave me a particular slap back to reality.
Lastly, as shocking as the violence is, it’s the central characters’ stories that really stick with you. They live in constant fear knowing they will never be safe wherever they are in the world and that’s the torture they live with every day. They tell a story of having nothing left to lose and fighting for something bigger than yourself. And that, I think, is why I’ve pushed through. I live in my own world. And in my world people, in general, are good. It’s time I realise this isn’t the case, and that in fact my world is a U rated version of the shit show that’s really out there.
We were asked the other day whether we would be comfortable working on something that just sells stuff, because a lot of our work tries to ‘do good’. As we were answering I could hear us both waver, questioning ourselves on how best to answer. I know what this industry is about. I knew it when I applied for the course, when I decided to come to SCA and throughout my time here. We decided to be completely truthful. We want to leave the world better than we found it. After watching this I’m so glad we gave that answer because as cheesy and unrealistic it might sound, if there’s any small thing I can do that counters what else is happening I want to do it.
Now go watch.