The Netflix documentary short The White Helmets won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short in 2017. You can watch it now on Netflix. Let me rephrase that. You should watch it now on Netflix.
The White Helmets is only 40 minutes long, but in that time you get a visceral understanding of what is going on in Syria, and why Syrian refugees are streaming out of their homeland in desperation.
A group of heroic men forming the Syrian Civil Defense team, called the white helmets, respond to bombings. They rush to the scene, look for survivors and victims, and help people out of the rubble.
The filmmakers and director Orlando von Einsiedel follow a team of white helmets from Aleppo. We see the men at work, briefly at home (no wives were photographed), and in Turkey getting additional training. We see the bombs falling, hear the cries of the innocent victims, and feel each loss and triumph with this group of men.
The film doesn’t get into causes and blame. It mentions that the bombs are falling from Russian planes. It mentions that the war is meant to bring and end to ISIS. But the documentary is more about what’s happening on the ground, to the people. Even so, the Russians denounced the film.
The barrel bombs, the cluster bombs – they’re still falling.