Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
United Kingdom/Syria/USA, 2019. Channel 4 News, Channel 4, Frontline, ITN Productions, PBS Distribution, WGBH. Cinematography by Waad Al-Kateab. Produced by Waad Al-Kateab. Music by Nainita Desai. Film Editing by Chloe Lambourne, Simon McMahon. Academy Awards 2019. Independent Spirit Awards 2019. National Board of Review Awards 2019. Washington Film Critics Awards 2019.
Rarely do films give you as good an example of the personal as political, but Waad Al-Kateab‘s video diary of her experience in the siege of Aleppo joins Last Men In Aleppo as a devastating account that brings us directly into her situation. Narrating the story to her newborn daughter, she tells of meeting and falling in love with her husband, a doctor helping injured citizens at his hospital where they are in danger of being bombed every day. The danger eventually requires their little family to move into the hospital, and from within its walls Al-Kateab records the daily struggle of dealing with patients, battered and bloody and often worse, many of them children, while preparing for the birth of her own. She offers plenty of context for her images but doesn’t editorialize on them, simply covering the days of fear and seeing friends die, until it eventually becomes impossible to stay and they need to leave the city. The footage is raw and extremely painful but exceptionally powerful, packing a great deal of story information into a compact ninety minutes that is edited to perfection.