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A stirring portrait of courage, resilience and female solidarity. For besieged civilians in war-torn Syria, hope and safety lie underground, inside the subterranean hospital known as the Cave, where paediatrician and managing physician Dr. Amani Ballour and her colleagues Samaher and Dr. Alaa have claimed their right to work as equals alongside their male counterparts, doing their jobs in a way that would be unthinkable in the oppressively patriarchal culture that exists above. Following the women as they contend with daily bombardments, chronic supply shortages and the ever-present threat of chemical attacks, THE CAVE delivers an unflinching look at the Syrian war and some of its most unlikely heroes.

Director's Statement

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “The Artist of the Beautiful,” the watchmaker Owen creates a beautiful mechanical butterfly as a gift for his childhood friend, Annie, now a wife and mother. She is astonished as the creature flutters forth from a carved box, exclaiming, “Beautiful! Beautiful! Is it alive? Is it alive?” When the creature alights on her finger, she turns to Owen and says, “Is it alive? Tell me if it be alive, or whether you created it.” Owen replies, “Wherefore ask who created it, so it be beautiful?” Later on, an imprudent boy cruelly destroys the insect.While I was filming LAST MEN IN ALEPPO, we kept focus on the military targeting of hospitals over a few years. Hospitals were demolished. Medics as well as patients were killed. The systematic targeting of hospitals was used as revenge, intimidation and a method to create chaos and force citizens to flee. No international countermeasures were introduced to stop these barbaric and vengeful attacks.It became impossible for the health sector to exist on the surface, so hospitals were built underground. I was able to visit a number of them, and it was astonishing to witness the human ingenuity at work. These hospitals became the only hope for people to survive and receive treatment. And they provided a place where men and women could work together. In fact, these limited underground spaces might be the only places where women can work.In "the Cave", I witnessed how these female doctors and nurses are fighting to reclaim their rights in these subterranean hospitals. They stand up for themselves, which is something they couldn’t do aboveground in the patriarchal culture surrounding them. These women are truly an inspiration to me, and I believe with this film they will inspire the world as well — contributing to breaking the silence of the outside world. If the silence toward the brutality isn’t broken and if no measures are taken against war crimes, then there is a problem in man’s universal claim to possess the rights of freedom, law and justice.The current time in history is frightening because people are keener to glorify power. Like Hawthorne’s “The Artist of the Beautiful,” I wanted this film to be poetic — a film that helps us to look into the darkest corners of our souls and to inspire us to search for the light.Feras Fayyad

Director's Biography

Feras Fayyad was born in Syria in 1984. He has directed and edited several films, both documentaries and fiction and has received particular recognition for his work on contemporary Syrian issues and the political transformation of the Arab world.

2013 WIDE SHOT-CLOSE SHOT (eps. of tv-serie)

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Feras Fayyad

Written by: Alisar Hasan, Feras Fayyad

Produced by: Kirstine Barfod, Sigrid Dyekjær

Cinematography: Muhammed Khair Al Shami, Ammar Suleiman, Mohammed Eyad

Editing: Per K. Kirkegaard, Denniz Göl Bertelsen

Original Score: Matthew Herbert

Sound: Peter Albrechtsen

Nominations and Awards

  • European Documentary 2020
  • Documentary Selection 2020