A terrifying and insightful look into those still caught in the crossfire of the Syrian Civil War.
Feras Fayyad returns to follow up his last documentary on the Syrian War, Last Men in Aleppo, with The Cave. This time around Fayyad and his crew find themselves on the outskirts of Damascus, recording the actions taken by Syrian doctors as they attempt to save the lives of citizens of the besieged city. Fayyad’s film beautifully depicts the struggle of doctors and civilians day to day as they try to get by in a city cut off from the rest of the world with little hope of escape.
The film particularly plays close attention to doctor Amani and her work as she runs the last bastion of hope within the city, the local hospital. All the while Amani must deal with constant prejudice from her patients and coworkers who judge her ability as a doctor solely on her sex. Amani is joined by a number of other dedicated doctors and nurses, who risk their lives day in and day out to save the last remaining civilians in the besieged city.
As the name of the movie suggests, the hospital in which we see most of the documentary take place has had a elaborate system of tunnels built underneath in order to help protect the doctors and patients from bombings and chemical explosions. The “cave” in which a predominant amount of footage is shown is quickly built and regularly renovated over a period of months in order to combat the constant bombardment that is taking place above the ground. Fayyad shows humanity at its most desperate and inspiring as this group of heroic doctors band together underground to save every last victim of this cruel war.
In interviews before and after the New York premiere of this film Fayyad expressed his intent to depict the power of strong women in examples of extreme adversity, and Amani may be one of the best examples of this. Throughout The Cave we are witness to an independent and confident young woman who works hard to help the well-being of others, all at the risk of her own life. Fayyad chose to include scenes in which patients discredited her as a doctor and leader due to her sex, and how Amani was able to overcome these obstacles and complete her job to the best of her ability.
The Cave was officially released in the United States to select theaters on October 18th. It is a must-see documentary that adeptly pieces together the struggles of those just trying to get by in a not-too-forgiving global conflict.