Review

HBO's 'Cries From Syria' focuses on children in refugee crisis

Anyone with even a shred social conscience should find the comprehensive Syrian civil war documentary “Cries From Syria” a truly devastating experience. It should be required viewing for any public official involved with shaping any laws or policies regarding the fate of Syrian refugees.

Director Evgeny Afineevsky (Oscar-nominated for 2015’s “Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom”) has deftly assembled a wealth of astonishing, you-are-there footage, much of it shot by Syrian activists and ordinary citizens from early 2011, when the Arab Spring protests gave way to armed conflict, through 2016, as fighting continued with no end in sight.

The film’s unbearably graphic images, combined with unbridled, often deeply tragic interviews with a cross-section of Syrian civilians, rivetingly details the horrors of the battle between President Bashar Assad’s authoritarian regime against rebel groups including the Free Syrian Army (and later involving the Islamic State, Russian forces and other groups).  

Afineevsky gives crucial attention to the many women, children and older people whose lives and families have been ravaged by the hyper-brutality of the Assad regime and its supporters. Input from resident journalists, human rights defenders and government army defectors further enlightens.

Harrowing footage of innocent Syrians fleeing their native land and their grueling journey to find a new home proves the undeniable need for global compassion.

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‘Cries From Syria’

In Arabic and English with English subtitles

No rating

Running time: 1 hour, 51 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; HBO, beginning March 13

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