In 'The Cave,' Feras Fayyad profiles a brave Syrian doctor working underground

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From the documentary 'The Cave': Dr. Amani (center) and Dr Alaa (right) in the operating room. Photo courtesy of National Geographic.

The new documentary ‘The Cave’ follows Syrian doctor Amani Ballour--a 30-year-old pediatrician and the country’s only female hospital manager. The film provides an up-close and claustrophobic look at the underground complex of tunnels in besieged Eastern Ghouta where health-care professionals struggle to practice medicine with few resources. 

As the region is subject to bombing by Russian planes, as well as chemical attacks by the Assad regime, desperate patients pour into The Cave. Dr. Amani and her small team treat them as best they can despite an extreme shortage of medicine and supplies. Many of Dr. Amani’s young patients are sick, injured--or near death after breathing in chlorine gas. 

The director of ‘The Cave’ is Feras Fayyad--the first Syrian director to be nominated for Oscar for his previous film, ‘Last Men in Aleppo.’ 

Fayyad starting working on ‘The Cave’ before ‘Last Men in Aleppo.’ He’d long thought about making a project focused on a Syrian woman--he grew up with seven sisters and 14 aunts.

Fayyad talks about his background--when he was younger, his father’s work as a political researcher put him at odds with the Assad regime. So his parents raised him and his siblings away from busy cities where they might attract attention. 

He tells us about his circuitous journey through art, acting and directing schools--in and out of Syria. Fayyad also shares his harrowing experience of being captured and tortured by the Assad regime for filming anti-government protests.  

Fayyad explains why he feels compelled to continue to engage in the risky act of making documentaries in Syria and offers his perspective on the new tragedy now unfolding in his home country. 

Credits

Guest:
Feras Fayyad - Director - @FerasFayyad

Host:
Kim Masters

Producer:
Kaitlin Parker