Dr. Amani in the underground tunnels of Syria photographed in Ghouta.

(c) National Geographic

Nat Geo’s “The Cave,” directed by Feras Fayyad, set for Fall 2019 Release

Danish Documentary Films and Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Feras Fayyad collaborated on the groundbreaking documentary filmed in Syria.

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–National Geographic has announced it will continue to expand its feature documentary slate with The Cave — a powerful new film about a hidden secret underground hospital in Syria and the unprecedented female-led team of civilians and medical professionals who are risking their lives to provide medical care to the besieged local population.

Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Feras Fayyad (“Last Man in Aleppo”) is directing The Cave, with Danish Documentary Films’ Kirstine Barfod (“Venus”) and Sigrid Dyekjær (“Something Better to Come”) as producers, and Eva Mulvad (“A Modern Man”), Pernille Rose Grønkjær(“The Monastery”) and Mikala Krogh (“The Newsroom – Off the Record”) executive producing. The Cave is slated for a fall 2019 release.

The film follows 30-year-old Dr. Amani, an aspiring pediatrician forced to end her studies and medical training due to the devastating war in Syria, as she becomes the appointed leader of a team of 130 medical practitioners in the secret hospital serving the 400,000 civilians of the besieged city of Al Ghouta from2012 to 2018. Due to the nonstop onslaught of conventional and chemical warfare, brutalized and displaced victims constantly flood the subterranean haven through secret entrances and an intricate network of tunnels. Despite the limited supply of medical resources, Dr. Amani and her team work tirelessly to restore health and hope.

“While I was detained by the Syrian regime for a critical film I made, I witnessed the suppression and torturing of women, an inhuman shameless pride of cruelty, in prison. Not only because they were prisoners but because they were women. I also observed one of the most atrocious war crimes in modern history when the Syrian regime used chemical weapons to attack Al Ghouta in 2013. These experiences were shockingly frightening and unforgettable, but even worse, the rest of the world looked on silently,” said Fayyad. “I knew I had to challenge the inaction and I felt morally responsible to expose the effects of the war crimes. My vision for The Cave was to paint a human picture of the Syrian War through the eyes of these unsuspecting female heroes, and for the film to be a global call to action for response to this humanitarian crisis.”

“This is an important story for women today and for the coming generations. It is about women who want independence and change in life,” said Dr. Amani. “It is my hope that the more people see it, the closer we are to ending the war and achieving justice. Something has to change.”

“National Geographic Documentary Films, a brand with such a pristine reputation for powerful storytelling, has inspired us, and we are thrilled to be working together,” said Barfod and Dyekjær. “With their support, we too hope to bring as much attention as possible to the crisis in Syria and shed a light on the gender inequality in the region through Dr. Amani’s story.”

“Dr. Amani is a true hero. We are honored to share her story with the world and to ensure that her team’s unwavering dedication and commitment in the most horrendous of circumstances is witnessed by the largest global audience possible,” added National Geographic Documentary Films’ Carolyn Bernstein.

Image of "The Cave" coming to television Fall 2019 from National Geographic.
Syrian born Ferras Fayyad directed, “The Cave” from National Geographic to be aired Fall 2019. “The Cave” is the untold story of an underground hospital in Syria led by a courageous pediatrician, Dr. Amani, dedicated to helping the thousands of victims of the Syrian Civil War.

According to Danish Documentary Films, director, writer, radio producer Ferras Fayyad was born in Syria and has a BA in audiovisual arts and filmmaking from the international film and television school EICAR in Paris. 

The Danish Documentary Films website lists his films to include “Damascus and the Last Manifestations” (2011), “On the Other Side” (2012), “Behind the White Color” (2014) and “My Escape” (2016). “Last Men in Aleppo” (2017), directed by Fayyad (co-director Steen Johannessen), won the international documentary competition at Sundance Film Festival as well as CPH:DOX’ main award DOX:AWARD.  The film was since nominated for an Oscar in the category for Best Documentary. ‘Last Men in Aleppo’ won the award for Best Current Affairs Documentary at the annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards in 2018.

National Geographic Documentary Films has achieved remarkable success in a very short time. Most recently, the critically acclaimed film Free Solo won both the Academy Award and the BAFTA Award for Best Documentary Feature — in addition to CAS, MPSE, Critics’ Choice and Cinema Eye wins. In 2017, two films released under the Documentary Films banner, Jane and LA 92,made the Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary Feature, and both won Emmys: LA 92 for Special Merit and Jane for Best Director and Best Cinematography.

For National Geographic Documentary Films, executive producers are Carolyn Bernstein and Ryan Harrington. For National Geographic Channel, executive producer is Matt Renner.

About National Geographic Documentary Films

The Cave announcement follows the recent greenlight announcements of Rebuilding Paradise from Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard and The Untitled Thai Cave Rescue Project (wt) from Academy Award-winning director Kevin Macdonald, National Geographic Documentary Films is committed to bringing the world premium, feature documentaries that cover timely, provocative and globally relevant stories from the very best documentary filmmakers in the world.

The announcement comes as the Museum of the Moving Image prepares to honor National Geographic for its accomplishments over the past few years, including the success of its newly formed documentary film unit — which recently won the Oscar and BAFTA for Best Documentary Feature of 2018 for Free Solo.

National Geographic Documentary Films is a division of National Geographic Partners, a joint venture between Disney and the National Geographic Society. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 131 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching millions of people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit natgeotv.com or nationalgeographic.com, or find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTubeLinkedIn and Pinterest.

About Danish Documentary

For over a decade, Danish Documentary Production (founded in 2007) has been an international key player in the world of high-end cinematic documentary films. The company is run by three talented directors and their producer. The directors are Pernille Rose Grønkjær, behind such films as “The Monastery – Mr. Vig and the Nun” (IDFA winner), “Genetic Me” and “Hunting for Hedonia”; Eva Mulvad, who directed “A Modern Man,” “The Good Life” and “Enemies of Happiness” (Sundance and IDFA winner); and Mikala Krogh, director of “A Normal Life” (CPH:DOX audience award), “Cairo Garbage,” “Everything Is Relative” and “The Newsroom – Off the Record.” The producer who oversees the company is Sigrid Dyekjær, who has produced all of its recent films, along with several others as well.

About Feras Fayyad

The Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Feras Fayyad has directed and edited a number of films, both documentary and fiction; the latest, “Last Men in Aleppo” (2017) won the award for Best Current Affairs Documentary at the annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards in 2018. Fayyad has received international recognition for his work on contemporary Syrian issues and the political transformation of the Arab world.