#chicagoGirl – The Social Network Takes on a Dictator

Joe Piscatella

The 19-year-old Ala’a Basatneh helps coordinate the Syrian revolution from a Chicago suburb, armed with all imaginable social networks. While the war rages, the question arises which is the most effective means to remove a dictator: social media or an AK-47?

With 1,200 Facebook friends and 2,000 followers on Twitter, Ala’a Basatneh has built an impressive network. She posts Syrian demonstrations as Facebook events, plots escape routes using Google Maps and uploads footage shot by demonstrators. She also ensures that recording equipment gets to her friends, once ordinary students who now want to overthrow the rule by terror of president Bashar al-Assad.

But what began as peaceful protest has escalated into violence. We follow both Ala’a and her Syrian friends throughout some crucial months. We see her friends mostly through their own footage, giving a terrifying impression of brutal violence, death and devastated streets. The story is accompanied by commentary from a range of experts on Syria, war, journalism and social media. How does the Internet influence the phenomenon of revolution? Why is a camera more effective than an AK-47? And why did the regimes in Egypt and Tunisia fall within days, while the Syrian regime is still holding out?


Joe Piscatella
Joe Piscatella, Mike Rinehart
Country of production
United States, Syria
74 minutes
Spoken language
Arabic, English
Production company
Revolutio LLC.
World Sales
Ro*co Films International