Filmmaker Feras Fayyad joined me for Deadline’s Contenders Television: The Nominees all-day event to discuss his multiple-Emmy nominated The Cave, the harrowing documentary he spent 3 1/2 years making.
It chronicles the plight of hospitals trying to provide urgent medical care during the five-year Syrian civil war. His focused on one that, as many have been forced to do, became an underground operation in order to remain undetected. In particular, The Cave centered on Dr. Amani Ballour, who ran the operation at great risk to her own life.
The Cave is up for Outstanding Merit in Documentary Film as well as writing, directing and cinematography. Earlier this year, it was nominated for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar, Fayyad’s second after being Oscar nominated and awarded an Emmy for 2018’s Last Men in Aleppo.
Talking to me from Berlin, Fayyad, who is Syrian, explained why this was a personal story affecting his own family and one he needed to tell. “The cinema is the only platform where we can raise a lot of questions and attention, and negotiation, and at least awareness and education to bring it closer to the people so that they have the right information,” he said.
It is powerful stuff, showing the constant threat to those doctors and patients who were in endless danger of being bombed and threatened by government operations trying to close them down and destroy lives. At its heart this is a courageous human story that Fayyad, in combing through 1,200 hours of footage, was determined to tell.
“We need the power of the humanity … to see how we can survive,” he said.
Check out the video above, and click here to watch all of Sunday’s Contenders TV panels.
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