Film Review: LAST MEN IN ALEPPO (Syria 2017) ***

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Last Men in Aleppo Poster


Khaled, Mahmoud, and Subhi volunteered at the white helmets trying to save lives of hundreds of victims at besieged city during the Syrian civil war.


Feras Fayyad 


Feras Fayyad


LAST MEN IN ALEPPO has been nominated for Best Documentary for thisnyear’s Academy Awards.  It is also essential viewing for its subject matter.

 Aleppo was the largest city of Syria but now considered only the second (population 4.6 million) after the Syrian Civil war from 2012- 2016.  It is the setting of this riveting war documentary

The director and subject of The Last Men in Aleppo, the documentary about a volunteer medical relief unit in Syria called the White Helmets, has just been reported by THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER that they will not attending the Oscar ceremony in March.  The Syrian government refused to expedite the visa process that would allow Kareem Abeed and White Helmets founder Mahmoud Al-Hattar, the documentary’s producer and subject, to travel to Hollywood.  They cannot come to the U.S. because of the Trump travel ban,” director Feras Fayyad says. “Barring a miracle, he will not be at the Oscars with me. We are artists and we just want to share our stories and nothing more. It’s very sad he won’t have an opportunity to share his.”  On the bright side, last year the same thing happened to the Iranian director Asghar Farhadi and THE SALESMAN.  The result?  THE SALESMAN won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, a result that occurred from sentiment.

The same might occur with LAST MEN IN ALEPPO, nominated for Best Documentary.  

The film personalizes the tragedy of the Syrians.  This is what makes the film so effective.  Within the first 10 minutes, the audience sees 4 siblings rescued from under rubble after bombings, two dead while two still alive, only to be informed after that the last one who survived has also died.  Authentic scenes like these move audiences.

The director has this message to say (in the Hollywood Reporter).  It’s time to end this war and to stop those who use their power to destroy us,’ Al-Hattar told THR.  He said he would use his speech to condemn Russia, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and “everyone who represents the authorities and supplies weapons to suppress the people of Syria.”   The Academy looks down on political speeches during its ceremonies, many in the past who have done so being boo’ed off stage (Michael Moore, a prime example).  Being banned and his film winning will definitely make a more prominent statement.

The doc follows two men Khaled and Mahmoud as they travel around to rescue bombing casualties.  As evident from the footage, it is a dangerous job, but one that needs be done.  Director Abeed leaves out the politics and history of the war, except to talk a bit of the ceasefire between the Regime and the Opposition, while being bombed by the Russians.  A bit more history would put the film into better perspective,

Forget Clint Eastwood’s 13:15 TO PARIS.  LAST MEN IN ALEPPO is the real thing, with a shocking ending.


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