‘The Amina Profile’: romance and thrills
January 24, 2015
Female, openly gay, and writing about her life under Assad’s regime in Syria. For people around the world, Amina Arraf was an inspiration and her blog, "A Gay Girl in Damascus," garnered a massive following.
As she posted about feminism, human rights, and revolution, Amina was supported by Sandra Bagaria, a woman in Montreal with whom Amina had started an online relationship. Six months later, Amina went missing, allegedly kidnapped by the Syrian secret police. What followed was an international mystery as Bagaria fought to get Amina back.
Bagaria’s story is relayed with honesty and openness in the Sundance World Documentary, "The Amina Profile." The film starts as a provocative romance but quickly develops into a heart-racing thriller as it becomes evident that nothing is as it seems.
Director Sophie Deraspe was following Bagaria and Amina’s journey long before "The Amina Profile" was even an idea.
"I knew [Bagaria] before, she’s a friend of mine so I knew her when she started dating Amina. The abduction came and in the days following the abduction, all the time, it was like being in a thriller, being in a film," recalled Deraspe.
"It was a few months later that [Bagaria] came to me one evening; she offered me the archives of her relationship with Amina. She wanted the subject to be treated in a broader way than only what was in the media. Her name was associated with that story, probably as long as the Internet will exists she will be associated with that story. I received it as a wonderful gift of trust."
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Explained Bagaria, "The attention was really on me because I was one of the few people that was really talking about [Amina’s abduction]. It was too much to handle by myself, I had to share a piece of it to feel lighter after."
Coming from a background in fictional filmmaking, Deraspe considered relaying the story as a drama but decided a documentary was the only way to do it justice.
"Reality goes beyond imagination with this story. I would have wanted to write it or invent it but I couldn’t, people wouldn’t even think it was believable."
Beyond being a tale of love and intrigue, "The Amina Profile" is a story about Syria, the media, and the Internet.
"There are so many issues that are exposed with the film. We receive news, but how can we double check it, especially when it comes from a country that is so culturally different and where the regime in power closes its borders to journalists? We don’t have that much input from inside. It also says a lot about how we connect personally via social media," commented Deraspe.
"The Amina Profile" will keep audiences riveted throughout the film and will leave room for plenty of discussion after.
"The Amina Profile," an entry in the World Documentary Competition at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It will screen Saturday, Jan. 24, at 9 p.m. at the Temple Theatre; Sunday, Jan. 25, at 3 p.m. at the Salt Lake City Library Theatre; Monday, Jan. 26, at 3:30 p.m. at Redstone Cinema 1; Thursday, Jan. 29, at 3 p.m. at the Temple Theatre; and Friday, Jan. 30, at noon at the Egyptian Theatre.
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