OTTAWA’S CINEMA FOR INTERNATIONAL AND INDEPENDENT MOVIES

The Cave

Hope shines in the darkest places

Director Feras Fayyad (Last Men In Aleppo) plunges inside another astonishing account of bravery in war-torn Syria with The Cave, a powerful documentary that puts women’s imperative contribution to survival front and centre.

Poster for the documentary The Cave, about a hospital under siege in SyriaIn the besieged region of Eastern Ghouta, where 400,000 people remain trapped, a patriarchy-defying female pediatrician, Dr. Amani Ballor, runs a subterranean hospital, the Cave, with unparalleled compassion and leadership, along with her female colleagues – the reserved and focused Dr. Alaa and the sweetly maternal nurse Samaher. Fending off routine sexism from those who strongly believe a woman of her age (29) should take up other interests or ideally get married and raise a family, Dr. Amani infectiously spreads her liberal feminist beliefs to everyone willing to listen.

This is an immensely humanist film, but also a tough, heartbreaking watch. The Cave doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to graphic images, many of them involving wounded children. But then we also get lighter segments, like a surprise birthday party for one of the staff, and witty conversations that scoop unexpected humour out of topics small and big, from rice cooking to air strikes.

Fayyad pulls off something miraculous with The Cave, a dizzying, disquieting film that overflows with both extreme examples of desperation and a defiantly countering sense of hope. He transmits onto the screen a unique environment of audacity, where collective daring and wit become synonymous with endurance. He also proves, one character at a time, that there would be no societal survival without the smarts and equal contribution of women.

– Tomris Laffly, Variety

 

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