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The Cave (2019)

PG-13 | | Documentary, War | 18 October 2019 (USA)
1:57 | Trailer
Amidst air strikes and bombings, a group of female doctors in Ghouta, Syria struggle with systemic sexism while trying to care for the injured using limited resources.


Feras Fayyad
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 19 wins & 21 nominations. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Amani Ballour ... Self
Alaa Alaa ... Self
Salim Namour Salim Namour ... Self
Samaher Samaher ... Self


Director Feras Fayyad returns to his native, Wartorn Syria to follow a dedicated team of female doctors who tirelessly treat casualties in an underground hospital while battling systemic sexism. Shot from 2016 to 2018, The Cave belongs to the top rank of war films. Syrian director Feras Fayyad takes us to a subterranean landscape that feels akin to the post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max (1979). With life too dangerous above ground, survivors create a network of secret tunnels under the city of Ghouta, near Damascus, for an underground hospital maintained by women doctors. In contrast to the many Syrian documentaries made from cellphone footage or shaky cameras, Feras Fayyad takes great care to visualize the landscape and its memorable occupants with artful cinematography. For anyone who feels jaded by Syria coverage, this work stands apart. The heart of the film is Dr. Amani, a young Syrian woman operating in unimaginable conditions with great humor and fortitude. When not tending to ... Written by Toronto International Film Festival

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Hope shines in the darkest places


Documentary | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for disturbing war-related thematic content and images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The film won 2 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Cinematography for a Nonfiction Program and Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking. See more »


Amani Ballour: The idea of moving underground was simple. As simple as the death lurking on the surface. The cause of that death is clear and simple too. As simple as the urge to survive. As a doctor, I've witnesses so many tragedies, so much suffering. So many lies. It made us search for a way to survive.
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Featured in The Oscars (2020) See more »


The Cave original song
Written by Alisar Hasan, Feras Fayyad
Vocals by Rasha Rizk
Produced by Mathew Herbert
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User Reviews

A sobering essential Doc with a true heroine at its center
27 January 2020 | by gortxSee all my reviews

Feras Feyyad's sobering Documentary THE CAVE begins with one of the most striking opening shots of any recent film. A city sits quietly for several moments. And, then a missile comes flying seemingly out of nowhere and explodes. And, then another. And, then another. But, this isn't some Michael Bay Armageddon fantasy - it's a war torn city. And, the 'war' isn't being waged by some invading enemy -- but, by the nation's own leader.

The city is in a province of Syria that was attacked by it's evil tyrant Bashar al-Assad (abetted by Putin's Russia). But, THE CAVE isn't a political film. Instead, its focus isn't on the war on the ground, but by a tunnel burrowed beneath the city of Ghouta. Within those tunnels sits a hospital run by a hundred or so volunteers who chose to stay and help the victims of the constant bombardment rather than flee (or, at the very least, remain with their friends and families). The head of the hospital is Dr. Amani Ballour and unmarried 30ish woman. Beyond the enormous task of running a subterranean medical facility during a time of war, Amani has to assert herself in a patriarchal society which takes a dim view of 'working women' --- even her own family voices displeasure.

Feyyad and his team do laudable work under the circumstances. Feyyad balances the hospital and war horrors with the personal lives of Amani and her personnel. He doesn't dwell on the graphic details, but, doesn't shy away either (fair warning). At any moment a bomb can strike in the city and the entire facility becomes a full on E.R. (the tunnel also functions as a de facto bomb shelter for many). But, during the quieter moments, we see the doctors and laymen go about the mundane details like feeding the crew and trying to get the internet to function so as to keep open channels to the world above. The only real demerit is for Matthew Herbert's overly dramatic musical score. The material not only doesn't lend itself to such an approach, but, with all the sounds of battle and hospital work all around it isn't required.

THE CAVE certainly isn't easy viewing, but, it's an essential piece of filmmaking with a subject in Amani that is worth all the attention coming to her. A heroine.

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Arabic | English

Release Date:

18 October 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Cave See more »

Filming Locations:

Syria See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$21,185, 20 October 2019

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Atmos



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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