Linda Cook review: ‘Hunger Ward’ is compelling documentary

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This is 40 minutes you will not easily forget.

“Hunger Ward” is not an entertainment-type film. It’s a documentary, a cringe-worthy one, that depicts an often-forgotten part of the world.

The country of Yemen is in the Middle East, to the east of North Africa and south of Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq. Since 2016, a famine has continued there, where thousands of children have died.

This film was shot inside two therapeutic feeding centers in Yemen. It focuses on two health-care workers and their struggle to keep children alive.

It never shies away from the horrors that Dr. Aida Alsadeeq and Mekkia Mahdi, a nurse, see daily as their ongoing battle continues in a war-torn country.

The film is the final movie in a trilogy by the director, Skye Fitzgerald. The first two movies are “50 Feet from Syria” and “Lifeboat.”  

The first movie focused on how the Syrian conflict affected civilians, and the second on refugees who flee Libya in rubber boats, embarking on a dangerous journey despite the likelihood they will drown.

Eventually, the director plans to release the movies together as a Humanitarian Trilogy about two hours long.  

“Hunger Ward” is perhaps the most shattering of the three. Within two hours of the team’s arrival, the film crew saw the first child pass away.

We meet two little girls, one 6, weighing 12 pounds, and another, at the age of 10, who weighs 24 pounds.

The facilities are spartan. Sometimes the surroundings themselves made me, used to sterile, updated health-care environments, cringe in and of themselves. And the flies …. always, there are flies, like tiny vultures, perched upon or waiting to light on fragile patients.

There are scenes in this movie that will not only bring you to tears, but make you weep: We don’t understand what a woman is saying at one point, but we fully comprehend her emotions and her loss, which is communicated far beyond language.

See for yourself why this film is, not surprisingly, nominated for an Academy Award.

4 stars

To find various ways and times to watch “Hunger Ward” in streaming showings, visit www.hungerward.org

Running time: 40 minutes.

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