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 20 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »





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

Hope Shines In The Darkest Places
17 February 2020 | by CinemaClownSee all my reviews

Nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the last Academy Awards, The Cave is another hard-hitting account of the humanitarian crisis created in the wake of Syrian Civil War, and concerns a group of doctors as they try to save civilian lives with limited medical resources in an underground makeshift hospital.

Directed by Feras Fayyad, his documentary offers ample evidence of war crimes committed by Bashar Regime against its own citizens, including use of chemical weapons, but the presentation isn't up to the mark. Several segments look as if they were rehearsed before filming, and are lacking the spontaneity that makes them click.

Amidst the daily airstrikes & bombings, it also sheds light on the systemic sexism as even in an environment where death lurks above, a man feels an obligation to tell a female doctor why she should be at home instead of trying to save human lives. But this element is also later overplayed by the director as if he just wanted to drive a point home.

Like any documentary covering the subject of war, The Cave is graphic, disturbing & uncomfortable. Yet unlike most Syrian documentaries, it has a more polished & refined quality, almost like a feature film shot in an active war zone. It is also way more focused on a single person than the collective effort yet unlike For Sama, it is lacking that raw, personal touch.

Overall, The Cave is as gripping as it is heartbreaking but its impact is rather short lived. There are some tense moments that are expertly documented, including the gas attack that's just soul-shattering, but its narrative lacks a compelling structure and becomes repetitive after a while. Bringing to light the brutal reality of doctors operating in labyrinth of caves beneath a war-torn city, The Cave is worth a shot.

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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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