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Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #57: Sophie Deraspe’s ‘The Amina Profile’ Walks The Line Between Truth And Fiction In Both Subject And Form

Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #57: Sophie Deraspe's 'The Amina Profile' Walks The Line Between Truth And Fiction In Both Subject And Form

During the Arab Spring, a Canadian woman fell in love with a Syrian-American woman who later went missing, sparking a media frenzy. Their relationship, which had been documented on the “Gay Girl In Damascus” blog, captured the hearts and attention of people around the world. But how much can we trust what we read online? “The Amina Profile” touches on this question and so many others while attempting to uncover the truth about either the craziest love story – or biggest scam – in recent history.

What’s your film about in 140 characters or less?

During the Arab revolution, a love story between two women—a Canadian and a Syrian American—turns into an international socio-political thriller.

Now what’s it REALLY about?

When Amina—the “gay girl in Damascus,” as she refers to herself in her blog—is kidnapped, her love affair with Sandra and her role in the Syrian uprising grab world-wide attention. This film questions our desire and ability to really connect, while spotlighting media excesses and the thin line between truth and falsehood on the Internet.

Tell us briefly about yourself.

“The Amina Profile” is my first documentary feature after having completed two narrative films that were awarded at many festivals around the world. Since my films have always been strongly reality-driven while questioning the thin line between truth and fiction, the story that was fantasized and exposed in “The Amina Profile” was part of a natural continuum.

Biggest challenge in completing this film?

It is a documentary about a huge fantasy that was propagated mainly online. All of it being virtual, I played with fictional codes a lot. While avoiding actual re-enactments, I had to present the facts of what is truly a thriller, and at the same time I wanted the viewer to dive into lesbian eroticism and the making of a revolution, the ingredients for the success of the “Gay Girl in Damascus” blog. It is only when the fantasy is shared that the brutal reality can be faced.

What do you want Sundance audience to take away from your film?

The issues revealed in this film concern all of us—anyone searching for reliable information or interested in personal connections through social media. With all these new technological tools, all the small and big media outlets, all the possibilities for intimacy, how do we keep our head above the lies, mistakes, negligence, idiotic farces and distorted desires circulating out there? Sandra, the Canadian woman engaged in a relationship with Amina, showed a great amount of courage by travelling the globe to face reality.

Any films inspire you?

I felt I had to find my own film language for “The Amina Profile.” But at the same time, I have a lot of admiration for the documentary approach found in “Capturing the Friedmans” (2003), in which the story of an individual and his family expresses the demons of an entire society; also films like “The Act of Killing” (2012), in which the act of filming and documenting, as well as re-enacting, dramatically changes the course of one’s awareness. Film can truly be powerful!

What’s next?

A big year ahead of me: a third fiction film called “Les Loups” (“The Wolves”) will be released this year. I have a narrative script in English that will soon be ready to be read. And I am also always open to having great stories pitched to me, such as the one in “The Amina Profile.”

What cameras did you shoot on?

Sony FS700 with old Nikon lenses.

Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2015 festival. For profiles go HERE.

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