SynopsisIn war-torn Syria, in a hidden underground field hospital, a female-led team of medical professionals and civilian caregivers works tirelessly to provide much- needed medical assistance to an embattled population. Last Men in Aleppo director Feras Fayyad’s new film shows this everyday courage in practice, following Dr. Amani, a 30-year-old aspiring pediatrician. Her medical studies interrupted by war, she leads a team serving the needs of Al Ghouta’s populace, battered by the Syrian civil war’s aerial bombardments and chemical warfare. An unforgettable portrait of everyday heroism, female camaraderie, the effort to mend, and the struggle for light in the dark.
Deep beneath the surface in the Syrian province of Ghouta, a group of female doctors have established an underground field hospital. Under the supervision of paediatrician Dr. Amani and her staff of doctors and nurses, hope is restored for some of the thousands of children and civilian victims of the ruthless Syrian civil war.
The film is Feras Fayyad’s second documentary feature, following the Oscar-nominated ’Last Men in Aleppo’ (2017) about Syria’s White Helmets, which also took home top prizes at Sundance, CPH:DOX and the News and Documentary Emmy Awards, among others.
"Director Feras Fayyad (Last Men in Aleppo) 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 (Oscar-nominated for Last Men in Aleppo) takes us to a subterranean landscape that feels akin to the post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max. 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, 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 humour and fortitude. When not tending to patients — many of whom are small children — she's forced to justify her work to chauvinistic men who insist that a woman should be at home fulfilling domestic duties, not running a hospital. The claustrophobia of Amani's workplace is mitigated by the high spirits of her crew, while occasional forays above ground temper relief from close quarters with harrowing scenes of a city reduced to rubble.
Fayyad's intimate portraits of the brave, tenacious hospital staff emphasize the camaraderie that buoys morale when circumstances are at their worst. There are many scenes in The Cave that can break your heart, yet the film leaves us, above all, with a powerful sense of the profound resilience, dedication, and love that endures in the midst of staggering hardship." (Thom Powers, tiff catalogue)