The term "catfish" — a person who engages in an online relationship with someone under a falsified identity — has been thrown around a lot in recent years, used to describe everything from teenage pranks to high-profile celebrity scandals. In the case of A Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile, a twisty, highly compelling documentary that will get a digital and theatrical release on July 24th, it seems insufficient: what do you call it when an entire international community is catfished?
What do you call it when an entire community is catfished?
Director Sophie Deraspe's film follows Sandra Bagaria, a woman in Montreal who strikes up an online relationship with a Syrian girl named Amina. Amina soon becomes an online celebrity for blogging about her experience living in a country where homosexuality is outlawed. As the Arab Spring of 2011 intensifies, Amina goes missing — and the international search for her reveals the truth of her identity. "Not only one person was fooled," said Deraspe when I spoke to her and Bagaria earlier this year about their bizarre, ultimately disastrous story. "Many people were — many educated people, many people who know about the world and the media."
The documentary will premiere in select theaters on July 24th and will be available to stream on SundanceNow Doc Club. It will also get its international television debut later this year on Sundance Channel Global.