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The Cave (2019, Syria).The Cave (2019)—Syria

This National Geographic documentary features a thirty-year-old woman pediatrician named Amani Ballour, who manages a staff of 150 people in an underground makeshift hospital in the city of Ghouta, near Damascus. I cried my way through parts of this film — it's a war movie that is equal parts horrifying, infuriating, and inspirational. In a complex network of underground tunnels called "the cave," Ballour and her team serve the victims of the war that's had the city of 400,000 people under siege for five years. There's precious little food or medicine. Above ground, the rolling thunder of Syrian and Russian aerial bombing, along with chemical warfare, make for an apocalyptic setting. And if the war was not enough, a major theme of the movie is the sexism that Ballour faces in a patriarchal culture. The Cave premiered at the 2019 Toronto festival, and was also nominated for Best Documentary Feature Film at the Academy Awards. Early in the movie, Ballour asks a haunting question: "Is God really watching? Oh God, oh God." I watched this film on Amazon Streaming.

Dan Clendenin:


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