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
The film won 2 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Cinematography for a Nonfiction Program and Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking. See more »
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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The Cave original song
Written by Alisar Hasan, Feras Fayyad
Vocals by Rasha Rizk
Produced by Mathew Herbert See more »
A first-hand observational film
The Cave is not a didactic or information-driven documentary. It's an actively observational grounding of the audience into a truth you have to see to believe-a spiritual appeal to the senses. For every bomb we see almost hit us, we are spared a screen full of text. For every infant hand we see reaching up for the doctor's stethoscope amidst the chaos following a blast, we are spared a formal, scripted interview sit-down or sound bite. When we see a gassed group of children brought to The Cave to die and wrapped in tablecloths because there are no replacements available for their chemically-stained clothes, we are diverted away from more standard informative fare that attempts to describe the indescribable.
This is not about the state of the Syrian war. This IS the Syrian war, enclosed from both ends, with the relentless reverberations of warplanes flying above ground and the normalization of a day-to-day constant of fear.
Most impactful was the perspective of the pediatrician (the subject of the film). Through clinical training, physicians grow a callus for their patients. Intentionally so, to remain calm, collected, rational. But also unintentionally, to subconsciously remove themselves from the trauma children experience in front of them on a daily basis. Seeing Dr. Amani crack, it destroyed me. Locking herself in the room and weeping, waiting for the next wave, not knowing what's going to come next. "Come home," her father insists on voicemail. But the clinic depends on her. It would be nothing without her. We're reminded that heroes are human and vulnerable.
I felt physically beaten down leaving the theater. I had to play my "It's going to be ok" playlist. I am not sure if it will, but if Amani can help these children find some momentary faith, I think we can all do better.
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