In following the Syrian Revolution, #INN has been turned on to many different stories and angles covering various parts of the uprising. One we have kept our eye closely on is a project by an American journalist/activist who took up arms in the Libyan Revolution, filmed his experience, and was captured and held for 165 days in Libyan prisons before escaping and rejoining the front lines.
His name is Matthew VanDyke and he has teamed up with a Libyan veteran of the revolution Masood Bwisir who became popular among Libyan rebels for singing songs on the front lines and raising the spirits of the anti-Gaddafi fighters. His songs became anthems of the revolution.
VanDyke and Bwisir’s mission is to join the front lines of the Syrian revolution to get an up close and personal documentary style video of the war. They planned to use the popular funding website Kickstarter to finance their film.
The Kickstarter pitch reads “This is your chance to become part of the Arab Spring.” The project, nearly fully funded, was suspended by Kickstarter, who believed it violated the Terms of Service of the website. The page has a short video of VanDyke and Bwisir’s time in the Libyan Revolution and describes what they aim to do while filming in Syria.
The project came under controversy as it raised questions of legality, along with questions of whether the funding was going toward a documentary or funding two self-titled freedom fighters to take up arms in Syria and fight Bashar Al-Assad’s forces. VanDyke and Bwisir are certainly pro-revolution, and considering sentences such as “Two freedom fighters from the Libyan revolution join the Syrian uprising against Assad and capture it all on film, with your help” it certainly makes the line look a little hazy.
However, VanDyke does not seem too concerned with the Kickstarter suspension:
As I told the press in interviews over the past few weeks (the reporters will all confirm this if asked), I have private financing outside of Kickstarter available for this film. The film is not affected by the success or failure or suspension of the Kickstarter campaign.The film is being made, it will be fully funded, and everything is on schedule.
VanDyke has claimed he would not participate in the Syrian Revolution in any way besides filming it, however, there is no telling what will happen once he gets to the country.
Syria is certainly not a safe place for journalists, or anyone for that matter, as the death toll now climbs to over 19,000. #INN will keep an eye on the project and bring you updates as we learn them. You can view the Kickstarter page for the film, along with video of VanDyke and Bwisir in Libya here