Surviving in a war field, trying to save the lives of innocent people injured in bombings, culture shock, commercial dispute, environmental impact and defense of democracy are the main themes of the documentaries chosen to compete in this year's Oscar Best Documentary category.
Two of the nominees are set in Syria, which is experiencing one of the most cruel and well-known civil wars in the world, in which one city, Aleppo, has become a battleground between the Islamic State and an international coalition that was trying to eliminate it.
Another takes place inside an automotive glass factory in the United States and shows the clash between Chinese and Americans, who need to work together despite cultural differences.
The favorite and winner of three awards at another film festival, Sundance, takes place in North Macedonia and tells the story of a beekeeper, showing the lonely and difficult job of keeping bees, as well as local problems.
In addition to them, the Brazilian 'Democracy in vertigo' records the impeachment process of President Dilma Rousseff, addressing particularly Brazilian issues, but which also reflect a moment of different crises in politics around the world.
All the documentaries ended up dealing with issues that are now on the international agenda, in addition to addressing a more human and personal view of the problems.
The war in Syria
Addressing the Syrian war in documentaries is not a new achievement. The war started in 2011 to remove President Bashar al-Assad, and has evolved into a series of conflicts that seem to be endless. Even before the start of the armed conflict, Syrians had already complained about the lack of quality of life in the country, high rates of unemployment and corruption.
The conflicts were caused by rebels and forces from the Assad government, accused of arbitrary arrests, torture, sexual abuse and the disappearance of people, including children. To defend themselves and to be able to fight, the population armed themselves and then the well-known war began.
In the meantime, the Islamic State was also gaining strength and trying to conquer territories in the Middle East to install its caliphate. As a result, the city of Aleppo ended up becoming one of the most well-known battlefields.
The most populous province became the target of the terrorist and rebel group in 2012, in a conflict that lasted until mid-2017, leaving hundreds of thousands dead.
The war is still supported by other countries. Beside the Assad government are Russia and Iran, while the rebels have help from the United States, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The fight against the Islamic State also had the help of an international coalition.
With this scenario, the documentaries try to show the reality of civilians who try to continue life and routine in a war field.
In For Sama, Waad Al-Kateab films the routine and life with her husband, Hamza Al-Kateab, a doctor at a hospital in Aleppo, when the attacks start and she finds out she is pregnant. The documentary is a harsh account of life and the attacks, with the hospital being bombed and a mother trying to explain to her daughter why they had to live in such a dangerous place.
Also taking place in a hospital, The Cave tells the story of doctor Amani Ballour, a pediatrician. As the surface is made of debris and what is standing becomes a target, she works in an underground hospital, where she takes care of the injured by the bombings without sufficient equipment and in the way she can.
The dispute between the USA and China
In Netflix's American Factory, the focus is on the relationship between American and Chinese employees at an automotive glass factory in Dayton, Ohio, in the United States. In the beginning, the Chinese criticized the "slowness" of the Americans and the fact that they needed to teach them everything. Despite the differences, Americans end up welcoming foreigners and show how labor relations can unfold over time.
China's growth and economic dominance is something that worries the United States. The Asian country already ranks second on the list of the world's largest economies, threatening the American monopoly, which sparked an intense trade war between the two countries.
This week, the two managed to sign an agreement after two years of negotiations. After sanctions, increased rates and reduced exports and investments between them, the two countries signal a truce and partnership for commercial development, as well as in the documentary.
The power of bees
Already awarded at Sundance and with chances of taking the Oscar statuette too, Honeyland tells the story of Hatidze Muratova, the last beekeeper in North Macedonia (the country recently changed its name). The documentary shows the history of bee cultivation and local commerce.
The story emphasizes the importance of bees, essential for pollination and the development of nature, but threatened by pesticides and poisons thrown in rural areas and losing space in large cities.
The documentary also gives space to discuss Europe's presence in environmental agreements. Last year, all international meetings and summits had discussions on sustainable development and green policies on the agenda, and the region is also the stage for the main voice of the environmental movement at the moment: the Swedish Greta Thunberg.
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