National Geographic Documentaries: The Cave and The Nightcrawlers

Oscar season is here and I had an opportunity to screen two powerful documentaries from National Geographic which are both shortlisted for the Oscars.  The Cave (which was nominated for best documentary) and The Nightcrawlers.  Both films bring empathetic, personal perspectives to deadly conflicts in Syria and The Philippines.

The Cave follows female pediatrician Dr. Amani in a city near Damascus who runs a secret hospital known as The Cave underground to aid civilians as the regime of Bashar al-Assad attacks the city daily with bombs, missiles, and chemical weapons. The film, which has to be smuggled in pieces out of Syria, gives an eye opening look at the ongoing war and the daily human cost.  It also gives the viewer a sense of the social conflicts and sexism that exist as hospital employees try to save lives amid the seemingly unending barrage of explosions.

The Nightcrawlers tells the story of Filipino President Duterte’s war on drugs and the photojournalists who try to cover the state sponsored vigilante killings that are part of it and expose the murders to the world.  The killings target young and old victims alike and seem to have little effect on the drug problem but are run by a group of mercenaries with day jobs.

These stories both have a way of staying with you and detail disparate situations in which humanity is erased by political agendas.  They are as moving as they are informative and are well worth watching.

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