TL;DR – An interesting exploration of one of the big topics of our days that just doesn’t quite come together.
Score – 3 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
There is this moment when people find out someone has done truly awful, where those who know them have to reconcile the person you knew with the person they now are. This is a common reaction across the world but today for some people it has even more complication due to outside pressures. When people head off to ISIS, there is this clamour as to why nothing was done, why didn’t people know?
This short film explores the life of “Mark” and the reception to his apparent departure to Syria to fight for ISIS by his friends back in Sugar Land, Houston, Texas. Right from the start, this documentary captures your interest by yes the content but also from the presentation. Everyone in the document bar “Mark” has their face covered by vintage pop-culture masks like Thor and Spider-Man. This is such an odd choice but then it is a good juxtaposition to what they are talking about and everyone is wearing it for a good reason.
of the things that is really interesting is that there is a disconnect between
people not sure if it is all real or not. Did he really become radicalised and
went to Syria, or is he an FBI agent undercover. It is such an odd scenario,
but then it is not an unbelievable one because there is precedent for it. This
makes it really hard for people to digest because it creates a conflict in
Where I think this documentary does not work as well for me is in its runtime. It is a short film and its run time clocks in at just a touch over twenty minutes. However in that time they have to chart Mark’s life, what brought him to want to go to Syria, and his friend’s reactions to all this. This is a lot to do in such a short timeframe and to do it you need to cut out the nuance, but this is a topic where nuance is so important. This means that they go straight from Mark’s rundown of why he is going but not enough time exploring why that is odd. Also it meant that the one interview that was really important go lost in the shuffle a lot of the time.
In the end, do we recommend Ghosts of Sugar Land? Well that is difficult to say. I think it is trying to explore a really important issue and the perspective that they are taking is really novel. I think that something was lost along the way and that limited the strength of the documentary for me.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow
Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV,
he’ll be talking about International Relations,
or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Ghosts of Sugar Land
Directed by –Bassam Tariq
Written by –Thomas Niles & Bassam Tariq
Music by – Forest Swords
Cinematography by – Jake Saner
Edited by – Thomas Niles
Production/Distribution Companies – Field of Vision & Netflix
Starring – Kc Okoro
Rating – Australia: MA15+;