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Darien Filmmaker Earns Social Impact Award For Documentary On Syria

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. — Documentary filmmaker Matthew Heineman, who grew up in Darien and New Canaan, has been nominated for an Academy Award and has won an Emmy Award. But on Friday night, he earned an award that hits much closer to home.

The Greenwich International Film Festival presented the award for Best Social Impact Film to "City of Ghosts" at its opening night party. The prize is awarded to one film across all categories that promote social change and awareness.

The award was announced by actress and head of the Social Impact Jury, Sophia Bush, and is underwritten by the Bill & Ann Bresnan Foundation.

A trophy and check for $10,000 was presented to Heineman, who directed the documentary. The ceremony was followed by a live performance by Flo Rida.

"City of Ghosts," which premieres at the Greenwich International Film Festival on Sunday, 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's earlier documentary, "Cartel Land," centered on vigilante groups fighting Mexican drug cartels. It was nominated for an Academy Award and won an Emmy.

The Greenwich International Film Festival also gave these awards Friday evening:

  • "The Strange Ones" won Best Narrative Feature,
  • "Bending the Arc" won Best Documentary Feature (underwritten by Kate & Jim Clark),
  • "Under Pressure" won Best Narrative Short,
  • "Rabbit Hunt" won Best Documentary Short and
  • "Blind Sushi" won Best Connecticut Short Film.
Prizes range from $1,00 to $5,000.

"City of Ghosts" premieres Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Bow Tie Cinema in Greenwich. Go to www.greenwichfilm.org/ for information and tickets.

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