This is my entry for “W” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Some other “W” documentaries I’ve reviewed are Waking Sleeping Beauty, Wattstax, What Happened, Miss Simone?, Wild Africa, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, and Word Wars.
Title: The White Helmets
Release Date: September 16, 2016
Director: Orlando von Einsiedel
Production Company: Grain Media | Violet Films
This short but harrowing documentary focuses on a group of volunteers in the Syrian Civil Defence – known as The White Helmets – in the war-torn city of Aleppo. The organization was formed in 2014 in response to Syrian government forces and their Russian allies targeting civilian populations. Their main responsibility is to help recover people trapped in the rubble of bombed-out buildings, saving the lives of thousands of people across Syria, as well as recovering the bodies of the dead.
The movie provides a mix of hope and humanity at the volunteers who put their lives on the line to rescue their neighbors, mixed with the bitterness that this cruel war never should have happened in the first place. A key part of the film features the rescue of a week-old baby that was trapped under debris for 16 hours. Later we see the White Helmets reuniting with the “miracle baby” as a healthy and happy toddler.
For part of the film, the volunteers we are following go across the border to Turkey for more in-depth training. There they observe the strangeness that comes from finding peace and quiet just by crossing a line on a map. While they are there, one of the volunteers also learns that his brother died in an attack and they all deal with the grief and guilt of that loss.
The movie is heartbreaking and hopeful and worth watching to learn about the horrors still being faced in part of our world.