In light of the horrifying and long-lasting war in Syria, Oscar-nominated filmmakers Sebastian Junger and Nick Quested have directed a documentary called “Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year.
The film’s purpose was to capture the harrowing socio-political situation in Syria and to be a relentless portrayal of the death and violence that surrounds the population on a daily basis. IndieWire’s editor-at-large Anne Thompson highlighted the film as a potential Oscar contender for Best Documentary Feature.
“You can’t sugarcoat the suffering of the Syrian people. We didn’t go out to shock people. We went to show people how it really is. It’s entirely documentary, exactly as it is happening. This is the reality,” said co-director Nick Quested.
Below are two exclusive shorts that are a product of Junger and Quested’s work in Syria, which will be rebroadcast on National Geographic on November 19.
“Bombs Over Aleppo: Al Quds Hospital”
Being a medical worker in Aleppo, Syria’s second biggest city, is one of the most dangerous professions in the world. The need for doctors in the country is dire, not just due to the violent turmoil that is constantly happening, but also due to the fact many medics have fled the country. In this short, Junger and Quested capture a day in the life of different doctors, surgeons, nurses, ambulance drivers and paramedics as they storm through the rubble of the city of Aleppo to rescue the victims after air strikes.
Junger and Quested collaborated with local activists and journalists, as well as local producer Mahmoud Al Basha, to cover new stories that could detail the scope of the tragic events in Aleppo. “We thought we could tackle that from an original place and try to portray the war from all sides,” said Junger in a statement.
“Bombs Over Aleppo: Castelo Road”
After the regime laid siege to the city of Aleppo, the Castelo Road was the only pathway into the city and was constantly bombarded by air strikes. The White Helmets, a group of courageous volunteers of the Syrian Civil Defense Force, were in charge of clearing the road of debris for safe passage of humanitarian aid and also of rescuing victims of air strikes.
This second segment focuses on various White Helmets volunteers, guided by White Helmets Vice President Ismail Abdullah, as they attempt to bring supplies into Aleppo through Castelo Road. The camera takes us through this extremely dangerous road that is highly targeted by the regime. The footage sheds light on the dangers of being a humanitarian in Syria. “A camera can be as powerful a gun — in many ways more powerful,” said co-director Quested to IndieWire.
“Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS” will be the recipient of the Courage Under Fire Award at this year’s IDA Awards.
You can watch the entire documentary on Nat Geo on November 19.