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Saturday, April 07, 2018

Last Men in Aleppo

I've now seen all five of the films nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the most recent Academy Awards, the last being Last Men of Aleppo. It is a very difficult film to watch, but nonetheless an important film.

The film was shot in Aleppo. which is the heart of the Syrian civil war. Rebels are fighting the troops led by dictator Bashar Assad, and Russian war planes routinely bomb the city, killing civilians. A group of volunteers, known for their white helmets, do what they can to help, which often means digging people out of the rubble. On more than one occasion they unearth dead babies, and the camera does not pull away.

The director is Feras Fayyad, who is right there in the action. He focuses mostly on two men--Khaled and Mahmoud, who do what they do out of a sense of humanity.

The film does not provide much of a political context, other than that the Russians are involved and Assad is decried as a murderer. With all of what's going in with Russia in our lives right now, I don't know why we're not more outraged about their actions in Syria. What we get is not a jeremiad, but simply a document of men whose bravery is unquestioned.

Incidentally, Fayyad was not able to attend the Academy Awards, as his visa was not approved due to the immigration ban.

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