Sundance-Winning ‘Last Men in Aleppo’: Making Cinema Amid Chaos and War

Courageous cinematographers follow the White Helmets on volunteer rescue missions in war-torn Syria in Firas Fayyad’s Sundance-winning documentary.

“Are you leaving Aleppo?” It’s the only question left asking in a city of ashes.

But there’s no time for an answer: the roar of a warplane rips across the sky. A sonic boom reverberates throughout the city. Two young men wearing white helmets rush toward the smoke and chaos in a ramshackle van. In its wake, a bomb has reduced a couple large apartment buildings to rubble.

“Who lived here?” one of the White Helmets asks a stunned civilian covered in soot.

“My babies are in there! My babies!” The civilian pleads with the men to rescue his children. His wife has already been found dead. After an hours-long makeshift excavation process, four children are pulled from the wreckage—two young boys are saved, but it is too late for their baby sisters.

As the sun sets on Aleppo, the White Helmets look to the ground, and then back up at the ominous sky.

“How can we make a cinematic movie inside Syria, very close to the bombing, to the war, to the dangers?”

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