Thursday, September 28, 2017, 7 – 9 Pm Pauling 216

After five years of war in Syria, the remaining citizens of Aleppo are getting ready for a siege. Through the eyes of volunteer rescue workers called the White Helmets, Last Men in Aleppo allows viewers to experience the daily life, death and struggle in the streets, where they are fighting for sanity in a city where war has become the norm. FREE! Winner, 2017 Sundance World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for Documentary.

Panelist: Dr. Ryan Caldwell and Stephanie Cohen (Orange County Community Housing Corporation) with the special participation of Dr. Shane Barter.

We will have in the audience junior high and high schools in Central and North Orange County, from Santiago High School (Garden Grove) and Ocean View High School (Huntington Beach).

Comments by SUA student:

On Thursday September 28, 2017, I went to watch Last Men in Aleppo. I was glad that to see that there was so many people there that wanted to know and were interested. The film itself was very difficult to watch. It is difficult to express all of what I felt.

Near the beginning of the film, there was a man that said “it’s not about us, it’s about the children.” We then saw how he went to the pharmacy where they told him that his daughter was malnourished and that they could not get the vitamins that she had been taking before. To see how hard he was working and fighting for his children and then to not be able to get his children the nutrients they needed to be healthy was awful. I cannot imagine his pain.

As the men gathered around at one point listening to the news, one became overwhelmed. One of his friends said “get over it, get over it… let it go, let it go.” They are in a situation that no one should ever have to be in, and yet there is no time or space to be able to express or feel their emotions. They have to repress their emotions otherwise it would all be too much. The amount of pain and disaster that they face is not something that we as humans are meant to be able to handle.

At one point, sitting on a roof looking over broken buildings, one man said “it’s unreal. it cannot be comprehended by humans or anything else.” This quote really stuck out to me because of how true it is. The White Helmets are just people. They’re volunteers. They’re not superheroes with abilities above all other humans. They’re people, just like their friends, families, and neighbors that they try to help. This is not like a job that you study and prepare for because there is no way that anyone could be prepared for this.

When the film ended, I had to leave immediately. I could not stay any longer. In class, we’ve talked about contradictions. I was reminded of that while watching this film. There were parts where we would see the “normal” daily life that would happen. People would see their friends, get married, go to school, play with their children, and go home to their families. How can this exist simultaneously in the same place with something so horrible? This truly is something that cannot be fully comprehended by humans or anything else.