Movie Thoughts

Storytelling Through Short Films | The White Helmets

**Featured image used from the White Helmets film page on Facebook**

As the Oscars have finished, many people have started rushing out to watch the movies that won awards this season.  The big blockbusters will get even more attention.  La La Land, Moonlight, Lion, Manchester by the Sea and Hell or High Water will continue to make oodles of money from the curious Oscar watcher who hadn’t see the winning movie just yet.  But there is one category that people, at least in my small section of the world, tend to forget about.  Documentaries, particularly the short films.  People don’t go to the movies to see a real story, and if they do it’s almost always a slightly fictionalized version of the truth.  But documentaries give us raw, unfiltered, full truths.  And sometimes those truths are horrific and hard to process.  Such is the case for The White Helmets.

For those unfamiliar with the White Helmets, like I was, they are an group of mostly untrained civilians risking their lives to save people from the horrors currently happening in Syria.  I say mostly untrained because for a month each year these civilians, most of whom have no rescue training, are taken to southern Turkey to be trained in basic rescue and fire fighting techniques, something most of them probably never dreamed of having to use before now.

What stood out most to me about this documentary was the fact that these people risked everything, saw unspeakable horrors and still at the end of the day had unfaltering faith and a small glimmer of hope that somewhere in the future “justice will prevail”.  As someone who has never, and probably will never, experience this kind of horror, that level of faith and trust is unfathomable to me. The idea that while seeing your city burn around you, you still have faith that one day something will change is incredible.

The other thing that stood out to me was the fact that without the Oscars and the fact that Netflix had a hand in this short film, I probably wouldn’t have ever heard of it.  I would have never known about a short film that in the span of 30 minutes broke my heart, amazed me and helped me to see a different side of humanity that I don’t get to see in the United States.  This incredible documentary would have been hidden from me because it wasn’t a blockbuster film.  It wasn’t a big seller, it would never premier in a theater but it had a message that is more powerful than any movie I’ve seen.  It showed hope.  Basic human hope.  And that is more incredible, inspiring, heart breaking, confusing and magnificent than anything that I could have gotten from La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Hell or High Water, Moonlight or Lion.  That in a corner of the world were horrors are part of an average day and tailors and blacksmiths are the bringers of life, there is still hope.

If you have a chance to watch this incredible short film I would highly recommend it.  It’s graphic at times, incredibly heart-wrenching and not something most people want to see in their day but for me, it was the most important thing I did with my day.  And I hope others will educate themselves and have a similar experience.


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