The civil unrest in Syria is ferocious, deadly, and seemingly without end. Many have suffered destruction, starvation, unspeakable acts of violence, and death at the hands of the Bashar al-Assad regime with his military might behind him. Desperately wanting to help, two young activists, without any armed support, stepped forward in an attempt to insert democracy into a brutal dictatorship. Red Lines exposes their efforts that rely on the only weapons they have, their laptops and cell phones, to bring peace and civility back to their homeland.

In what seems to be one international crisis after another, the word activism is thrown around a lot but is all this talk just politics? In directors Andrea Kalin and Oliver Lukacs’ Red Lines there’s urgency to shed light on two humanitarians, Razan Shalab al-Sham and Mouaz Moustafa, aiding the Syrian people. This documentary plays like an espionage thriller with the leads crossing borders in darkness to delver supplies to civilians.

Some may criticize the privileged Razan, but she’s quick to admit all. Referencing Shakespeare, she concludes tragedy clouds his plays not unlike the situation at home. Emotions run strong especially when Moustafa breaks down describing the fate of a smuggler working with them. The political density may prove too much for some but the film’s true message focuses on those in need. Some news footage of children post-chemical warfare maybe manipulative, but it’s hard to deny their impact.

Is Red Lines essential festival viewing?

There are no easy answers in Red Lines and little closure in this rough around the edges documentary, but seeing these events from an on-the-ground perspective gives a human face to loss of life.

Red Lines screening times

Red Lines trailer

Red Lines gallery

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