A Stranger Came to Town

A film by

the Netherlands | 70' | 11/2017 | documentary

A sad, poetic account of the complex reality of the conflict in Aleppo and the ruinous battles that followed.

Complex realities can never be reduced to a simple conflict between good and evil—and certainly not in the case of the war in Syria. Interviews with four inhabitants of Aleppo form the backbone of this cinematic essay about the chaos in the country. The images of a city in ruins—a gray haze filtering them like dust from the bombed-out buildings on the lens— are accompanied by the lamentations of mourning female voices. Three of the four interviewees joined the Free Syrian Army, which was formed to fight against Assad’s regime. They discuss the first big demonstration in 2012, how this rebel army took shape and how gangs of regime thugs tortured them. They go on to talk about fleeing to the West, while we see discomforting infrared shots of masses of people on the move. The fourth interviewee saw the conflict develop from his apartment, and he's critical of the rebels— initially a cause célèbre in the Western media, they were rapidly infiltrated and radicalized by terrorists and jihadists. He's the only one who stayed behind in Aleppo.

Thomas Vroege


Thomas Vroege is an award-winning Amsterdam based filmmaker most known for being honoured with the European Film Award for his documentary ‘9 Days From my Window’.

Graduating from Sint Joost Academy of Arts with short documentary ‘The Son & The Stranger’, he entered the world of filmmaking with a win in the The Dutch Film Fund’s ‘Wildcard Award’. Next up was a poetic documentary journey through the financial industry, ‘So Help Me God’, which premiered at the Golden Calf competition during the 2015 Dutch Film Festival.

His award-winning short documentary ‘9 Days From My Window’ travelled the international circuit of leading international film festivals and was awarded the prestigious European Film Award. The short documentary about the start of the Syrian uprising in the city of Aleppo was made in collaboration with fellow filmmaker Floor van der Meulen and Syrian photographer Issa Touma. Continuing on his journey in the war-zone, his next film ‘Theatre of the Crowd’ took the shape of a Greek tragedy about the course of the Syrian revolution. It was honoured with the IDFA Media Fund Documentary Award.

In 2017, his latest documentary ‘A Stranger Came to Town’, premieres at IDFA in the Dutch Competition.

In addition to being a documentary director, Vroege also works as an editor and cinematographer. He was an advisor to the Dutch Cultural Media Fund, and is currently a board member of the Dutch Directors Guild and Docking Station.


  • The Son & The Stranger (2014)
  • So Help Me God (2015)
  • 9 Days – From My Window in Aleppo (2015)
  • Greetings from Aleppo (2017)
  • A Stranger Came to Town (2017)
Square Eyes - Director - Thomas Vroege - Square Eyes


Director: Thomas Vroege
Producer: Halal Docs: Olivia Sophie Van Leeuwen, Gijs Kerbosch, Roel Oude Nijhuis, Gijs Determeijer
Cinematographer: Christian Paulussen
Sound Design: Taco Drijfhout
Editor: Daan Wijdeveld
Music: Darius Timmer
Executive producer: Estelle Bovelander


  • International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, the Netherlands (15 – 26 November, 2017)
    IDFA Competition For Dutch Documentary
  • Movies that Matter, the Netherlands (23 – 31 March, 2018)
    Dutch Movies Matter Competition
  • Nederlands Film Festival, Netherlands (27 September – 5 October, 2018)
    Gouden Kalf Competition
  • MOViEMENT Film Festival – Migration and its dimensions in cinema, Greece (30 October – 3 November, 2019)