V. Lepistö 🏳️🌈’s review published on Letterboxd:
Frustrating and unique film. There's a sense of urgency and necessity in it. Perhaps if I just get out of my mouth the fact that seeing children with guns was extremely distressing and I honestly can't think of any justification for that but then again I can only think it theoretically. I think this is my biggest stepping stone towards the film that showcases some things that are sometimes morally questionable (and close to repulsive) and breath of fresh air, a possibility. It's essentially a film about anti-imperialistic resistance and unseen feminist and Marxist-Leninist social experiment in the middle-east that has heirs in the Rojava revolution (also criticized for using child soldiers) although straight parallels is hard to draw considering the very different natures of these struggles (and the times) - PFLO here opposing British and U.S. imperialism, their quest for oil and the puppet governments, Rojava revolution started struggling against ISIS and continues against Syrian and Turkish oppression. Not to mention that to some (mostly western) leftists Rojava doesn't even represent "real" anti-capitalist struggle because they have had to co-operate with the U.S. which represents all evil and everyone involved with it (even if it's because of practicality) are on some level questionable.
It's easy to get distracted while thinking a film like this because it feels something more than a film, it comes to your skin and challenges you. The tone of the documentary is sympathetic towards this struggle and rather unquestioning which just adds the tension of what to think about it. How can one separate this documentary and the struggle it depicts? One can't. But I still think it is important because it shows us alternative ways of resistance and social organizations plus it takes us to the marginals of history that capitalist and imperialistic societies want to hush or forget. It raises questions that are potentially dangerous to capitalism while also showing us images that speak against our moral codes, images that the oppressors can easily use against the oppressed in preaching moral superiority. I return to the conflicting thought of the beginning: children with guns. Teaching social responsibility and organization is one thing but what does it mean to put a gun in a child's hand and tell them that "ideology guides the barrel"? Then again, is this just a stupid question to ask when British planes are flying above the heads of these people and dropping bombs randomly? I'm not sure the revolution can be compressed to the question of whether we approve or not. Srour doesn't take responsibility in questioning this but could she really?
We can't rely on others to make our conclusions for ourselves but film directed by strong pathos feels always questionable. We are perhaps taught to think that way in good and in bad. Isn't a film that hides its ideals actually more terrifying? In a way this film makes me more determinate even though it also horrifies me. Srour hits all the cards to the table and asks "what if?" and "why not?". Somewhere deep down one gets the feeling that one knows that something must be done and something could be done. If the paranoia and greed of imperialistic states hadn't reached its climax in the cold war, we could have seen different images and not just from Oman but all around the world. Watching this film, I can actually imagine this all (on some level) without the need for guns but that image also excludes airplanes. Nevertheless as long as capitalist zealotry produces cruel regimes, ruthless corporations, alienated human beings and strips human beings of their dignity and self-control, there will be need for alternatives.