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Tackling Hard Truths, Connecticut Filmmaker Brings New Movie To Greenwich

"City of Ghosts," directed by Matthew Heineman, follows Syrian activists who risk their lives to document the atrocities committed by ISIS.
"City of Ghosts," directed by Matthew Heineman, follows Syrian activists who risk their lives to document the atrocities committed by ISIS. Video Credit: Moviefone
Fairfield County native Matthew Heineman directed "City of Ghosts," playing at the Greenwich International Film Festival.
Fairfield County native Matthew Heineman directed "City of Ghosts," playing at the Greenwich International Film Festival. Photo Credit: Submitted

GREENWICH, Conn. -- It's a long way from Fairfield County to the war zone of Syria but for Filmmaker Matthew Heineman, who grew up in the area, being in dangerous spots is part of the job.

The Academy Award-nominated, Emmy-winning filmmaker was in the midst of shoot-outs, meth labs and torture chambers when he shot "Cartel Land," his earlier film which centered on vigilante groups fighting Mexican drug cartels. Now, with "City of Ghosts," which premieres at the Greenwich International Film Festival (GIFF) on June 4, he follows a handful of citizen journalists who banded together after the 2014 ISIS takeover. The group is known as "Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently."

Heineman said he's been in scary situations he could never have imagined when he was growing up in Connecticut but that showcasing powerful stories -- and exposing certain truths -- are paramount to his being.

"My parents brought me up to question the world," he said. "Which I'm forever grateful for."

He studied history at Dartmouth and initially wanted to be a teacher but after being rejected by Teach for America, he found his path in filmmaking, in particular, documentaries.

Next up, his first feature, titled "A Private War" which tells the story of War Correspondent, Marie Colvin, an American journalist who died covering the siege of Homs in Syria.

First, though, there's "City of Ghosts," which Heineman is excited to show a hometown audience. The movie premieres Sunday at 6 p.m. Go to www.greenwichfilm.org/ for information and tickets.

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