Cave, The: Feras Fayyad’s Docu about Syria’s Civil War

Feras Fayyad’s The Cave deals with Syria’s civil war, depicting a brutal conflict that viewers don’t see on news programs or in the headlines of Western newspapers. It illustrates in detail the human cost of the 8-year-old struggle.

Fayyad’s documentary, which premieres at this year’s Toronto Film Fest, is also focused on presenting a portrait of an unlikely heroine, Dr. Amani Ballor, a pediatrician and the manager of an underground hospital in besieged Ghouta.

Even as bombs drop around her and gunfire echoes in the distance, Dr. Ballor takes pains to put her young patients at ease, trying to provide a friendly, sympathetic face in the midst of death and destruction.

The Cave provides a remarkably intimate look at life in the subterranean hospital. It follows Dr. Ballor and her team in light moments like bartering for hard-to-find food supplies like margarine and rice, as well as moments of unspeakable horror. One particularly difficult scene shows the doctors and nurses treating children who have been the victims of a chemical attack.