At the Toronto Film Festival's closing ceremony on Sunday, Feras Fayyad picked up one of the coveted audience awards, the Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award, for his film from the Syrian war front, 'The Cave'. The Grolsch awards are considered particularly significant, coming at the very beginning of the awards season with the Oscar nominations in January as the highlight.
Sunday, 'The Cave' was also honoured with a Special Jury Prize at the Camden Film Festival in Maine, USA.
The film continues to travel the festival circuit, which includes the BFI London Film Festival in October in their Special Presentation line-up.
"Standout among Syrian war docs"
Critics across the board wrote warmly about 'The Cave', which opened the documentary section at Toronto:
"A standout among Syrian war docs, Feras Fayyad’s powerful portrait audaciously puts women’s imperative contribution to survival front and center," said Variety.
Feras Fayyad’s "gripping followup" to the Oscar-nominated 'Last Men in Aleppo' is a "frantic, unnerving window into Syria’s collapse, and a nerve-wracking thriller that alternates between acts of courage and utter despair," IndieWire wrote.
"The director, his cinematographers and his editors wield the cameras and shape the scenes so beautifully that the result is both intensely real and an ambitious, carefully wrought work of cinema," according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Dr. Amani at the centre
'The Cave' takes its audience to the Syrian province of Ghouta. Here, deep beneath the surface, a group of female doctors have established an underground field hospital. Under the supervision of paediatrician Dr. Amani and her staff of doctors and nurses, hope is restored for some of the thousands of children and civilian victims of the ruthless Syrian civil war.
In addition to receiving an Oscar nomination, Fayyad's 'Last Men in Aleppo' (2017) was honoured with a great number of accolades, including top awards at Sundance and CPH:DOX.
'The Cave' is produced by Kirstine Barfod and Sigrid Dyekjær for Danish Documentary Production with support from the Danish Film Institute, TV 2 Denmark, National Geographic, IMS International Media Support, Doha Film Institute, SWR, Yun Sat Yen Foundation, Docs Up Fund and Normandie for Peace.