When I opened Netflix earlier this week, the first thing I saw was a picture of the Netflix Original documentary: The White Helmets. A week ago this documentary won the Oscar for ""Best Documentary Short". The White Helmets is a 2016 documentary about the Syria Civil Defense (a.k.a The White Helmets); a group of volunteers that operates in parts of rebel controlled Syria. In the ongoing Civil War in Syria, the bombing of civilian targets is the order of the day. The White Helmets are among the first ones to respond to these bombings and they risk their lives to rescue people from the rubble. The documentary is directed by Orlando von Einsiedel. Among his earlier work is the 2012 documentary Aisha's Song (about a underpriviliged Kenyan girl named Aisha) and the 2014 documentary Virunga (about the protection of the last of the mountain gorillas).
The White Helmets focuses on three of the volunteers from the Aleppo group, being: Khaled Farah (a former builder), Mohamed Farah (a former tailor) and Abu Omar (a former blacksmith). At first we see them at home, with their families. We see them leave for their work and have a meal together, but then disaster strikes. A bomb is dropped and the White Helmets get in their van and rush off to the place of impact. We also see them leaving for a training mission in Turkey. During this training a brother of one of the volunteers is killed during an air strike and the camera follows the whole thing.
I thought The White Helmets was a very intriguing and impressive documentary, but for me it's too short. And yes I know it's a short documentary, but I would have liked to see more about this group. It seems like the documentary only scratches the surface and I think that is a shame.
The White Helmets received a lot of criticism, as people are claiming it is a fake documentary and the people in it are actors. All I can say about this is that I don't know what's true and what's not, but I think and hope that the story told is a true story. I think we can't even imagine what it's like to live in a war zone and I cannot believe that a documentary maker like von Einsiedel would make up a story like this for his own gain. Watching this documentary partially restored my faith in humanity and I hope for a peaceful future in Syria.