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The Cave

This is the latest film by Syrian filmmaker Feras Fayyad, who made Last Men in Aleppo, the gripping film about the White Helmets, the men who risked their lives to rescue civilians from bombing-related rubble. This documentary follows Dr. Amani, a pediatrician and managing physician of the Cave, an underground hospital in a city near Damascus, as she struggles to keep her hospital running. Food, medicine, and medical supplies are dwindling (one of the surgeons plays classical music on his phone and asks his patients to relax during surgery because of the lack of anesthesia), and the increasing risk of chemical weapons forces them to conduct their surgeries below the ground. It is a powerful and inspiring story of a woman and her many female colleagues who fight against the Russian army as well as prejudice from their own patriarchal culture to ensure that as many people as possible, a large number who are children, can be healed. While the film is a bit difficult to follow sometimes, the images are striking; like For Sama, which has a similar subject matter, the visuals of the bombings and the scarred city are horrifying. There are many shots of children who have been damaged by bombings, chemical attacks, and loss of their parents.  Big thumbs up for an important film that shows us the work of true heroines saving lives against great odds and, also like For Sama, presents important questions about the choices we make. (2019; 4 Stars)

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