The brutal warfare in Syria the past nine years has left the country in a dismantled state, as well as having torn the civil society apart. Working with the programming of Arab Film Days, many of the documentaries brought to our attention were surrounding the situation in Syria, which is why the revolution and warfare of the country will take up a considerable portion of this year’s programme.
Both For Sama and The Cave were nominated in the category “best documentary” at this year’s Academy Awards, and both documentaries are about hospital workers, in Aleppo and Ghouta respectively.
Shot between 2016 and 2018, The Cave is an unique testimony from the city of Ghouta close by Damascus, and the infinite network of secret tunnels below the city. Director Feras Fayyad, who has previously directed the Oscar nominated documentary Last Men in Aleppo, sets the focus of this documentary on the hospital doctor Amani, and the strenuous conditions she and her colleagues work within. Deep sorrow and despair live side by side with joy and laughter in their everyday work. As if the conditions weren’t difficult enough, Dr. Amani constantly has to justify her career choices to chauvinist men who believe a woman’s place is in the home, making her situation all the more absurd.
Trailer The Cave
For Sama revolves around the students Waad and Hamzi, who meet, fall in love, get married and have a daughter named Sama. Waad and Hamzi’s lives transform at the same time as their city, Aleppo, transforms from a university city to a war zone. With her camera in hand, Waad takes on the difficult task of documenting the brutalities. Hoping to create a counterbalance to the extreme violence her daughter is born into, she holds on to the love of her country and the people around her. This is a unique testimony from a woman in the midst of war, making it one of this year’s most powerful documentaries.
Read more about the documentary, and how important it is to getting an understanding of the Syrian situation, in Screen, here.
The Guardian interviewed director Waad al-Kateab, here.
Trailer For Sama