‘The Cave’ Wins Toronto International Film Festival People’s Choice Documentary Award

photo of the cave graphic TIFF

National Geographic’s documentary “The Cave” won the Toronto International Film Festival Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award.

This is the second year in a row that a National Geographic Documentary Films has won the People’s Choice Documentary Award at TIFF, after “Free Solo” won last year.

Directed by Feras Fayyad, who was nominated for an Oscar in 2018 for his documentary “Last Men in Aleppo,” his latest film “The Cave” tells the true story of a female-led team of doctors and civilians in a dangerous, secret underground Syrian hospital who are risking their lives to restore health and hope to the local population.

There have been many recent documentaries capturing the harrowing destruction of the Syrian civil war, but none that descend to the literal depths of The Cave… Fayyad captures a desperate struggle for survival at the behest of a young doctor and her team. It’s a frantic, unnerving window into Syria’s collapse, and a nerve-wracking thriller that alternates between acts of courage and utter despair; through that paradox, it captures the struggles on the ground in intimate detail.

IndieWire, Eric Kohn

The Cave belongs to the top rank of war films… Fayyad’s intimate portraits of the brave, tenacious hospital staff emphasize the camaraderie that buoys morale when circumstances are at their worst. There are many scenes in The Cave that can break your heart, yet the film leaves us, above all, with a powerful sense of the profound resilience, dedication, and love that endures in the midst of staggering hardship.

Thom Powers, Documentary programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival

National Geographic excels at producing or acquiring particularly gripping documentaries, and The Cave is no exception…The Cave is the hardest movie I’ve ever watched. I thought of leaving the theater because I couldn’t take it. You just don’t want to see it, but you need to. It is important. As a decent human, you can’t look the other way. You will cry, but that’s nothing compared to what they’re facing… It will stick with you long after you leave the theater. It is as moving as it is possible for a film to be.

Film Threat, Andy Howell

Feras Fayyad’s deeply moving companion piece to his Oscar-nominated doc Last Men in Aleppo follows a doctor in an underground hospital outside Damascus as she treats victims of the Syrian conflict. 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.

The Hollywood Reporter, Caryn James

“The Cave” also won the Audience Award and the Harrell Award for Best Documentary at the Camden International Film Festival, a prestigious festival exclusively for documentaries.

“The Cave” will be released in theaters starting October 18. See the trailer for the documentary below.