Sandra Bagaria was not raised to be a victim, and so when her online with a woman blogger named Amina half a world away took an emotionally wrenching turn, the last thing she wanted to do was walk away. Instead, she channeled her experiences into A GAY GIRL IN DAMASCUS: THE AMINA PROFILE, a documentary directed by her friend, Sophie Deraspe.
Bagaria is a Canadian with strong ties to the Middle East, which made her all the more determined to discover what had happened to the opening gay Amina when she disappeared during the Arab Spring in Damascus, Syria. What she discovered staggers the imagination, and proves that old saw that truth is stranger than fiction. The film, though, is about more than just one romance going wrong, it’s an incisive consideration of the impact the internet has on our daily lives, including our perceptions of what is happening in it, and its capacity to create paranoia.
When we spoke on June 26, 2015, the conversation covered why Amina’s online profile had attracted her, how making the documentary helped her get back control of her life, and the irony of having more information at our disposal than at any time in history, yet we are less well informed than ever. What I found most remarkable about this remarkable, resilient woman, was that even after all she had been through, she still has the capacity to trust, albeit in a “trust by verify” vein.
We finished up with my noting that we were talking on the very day that the U.S. Supreme Court had handed down its decision affirming same-sex marriage. I asked Bagaria what her thoughts were about had, coming as it did 10 years after Canada had made marriage equality the law of its land.
A GAY GIRL IN DAMASCUS: THE AMINA PROFILE is a documentary about real love and virtual relationships. It recounts how Bagaria became involved with Amina, a blogger in Damascus Syria who reported on life there as an out lesbian in a time of political turmoil. As their relationship deepens, the Arab Spring explodes, Amina and her blog become a media sensation that grows when she is arrested and disappears. What follows is gripping detective story to discover what happened to Amina, and what that investigation reveals about the power of the internet, and its ability to seduce in more ways than one.