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#ChicagoGirl - The Social Network Takes on a Dictator

USA | 2013 | 74 minutes | Joe Piscatella

Ala’a Basatneh, a Damascus-born, Chicago-based 19-year-old, proves instrumental in organizing the Syrian revolution while exposing al-Assad’s brutal dictatorship—all from behind her laptop.

May 18, 2014
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival  
4:30 PM Date has passed

Director Joe Piscatella and subject Ala'a Bastaneh scheduled to attend

May 20, 2014
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival  
4:00 PM Date has passed

Director Joe Piscatella and subject Ala'a Bastaneh scheduled to attend

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Armed only with a laptop, a smartphone, and her determination, an American teenager is running the Syrian revolution from her Chicago bedroom. Six thousand miles away from Damascus, 19-year-old Ala’a Basatneh orchestrates an impressive array of social media to coordinate and protect the Syrian protestors from President Bashar al-Assad's oppressive rule of terror, and while she is out of the regime’s reach, there’s no telling when the other shoe will drop. Shot over the course of two years, first-time director Joe Piscatella follows Ala'a as she organizes demonstrations, improvises escape routes, and broadcasts atrocities to global news services—all from her suburban Illinois home. By circumventing al-Assad's media blackout, Ala’a and her social network keep Syria at the forefront of world news, but when the regime begins the widespread bombing of Syrian cities, the activists must decide if the time has come to trade in their computers for AK-47s. Intercutting Ala'a's efforts with footage of Syrian activists on the ground, Piscatella immerses us in the daring—sometimes harrowing—real-time stakes on the front lines of Revolution 2.0.

Director Biography

Joe Piscatella has written on numerous film and television projects. His screen credits include Disney’s Underdog, Ozzy & Drix for Warner Bros. and Stark Raving Mad for NBC. He has written television pilots for 20th Century Fox and Touchstone Television and has also done production rewrites on acclaimed animated movies for Dreamworks Animation and Sony Animation. #ChicagoGirl is his directorial debut and his first documentary film.

Sponsored by Antioch University Seattle

Packaged Films

Not Anymore: A Story of Revolution

The story of the Syrian revolution as told through the experiences of two ordinary young Syrians as they fight an oppressive regime for the freedom of their people.
Director: Joe Piscatella
Premier Status: North American Premiere
Country: USA, Syria
Year: 2013
Running Time: 74 minutes
Producer: Mark Rinehart, Aaron Wahle, David Gorodyansky, Bert Roberts
Screenplay: Joe Piscatella
Cinematographers: Bassel Shahade, Rob Hauer
Editors: Matthew Sultan
Music: Huma Huma
Website: Official Film Website
Awards: International Documentary Festival Amsterdam 2013 (Doc U Award)
Filmography: Debut Feature Film
Language: Arabic, English
HasSubTitles: Yes
Format: DCP
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