MTV Documentary Films Releases Trailer For ‘Death Without Mercy’ (WT), Waad Al-Kateab’s Film About 2023’s Devastating Turkey-Syria Earthquake

EXCLUSIVE: MTV Documentary Films has announced a May 3 theatrical release for Death Without Mercy (working title), a riveting account of the massive earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria a year ago this week, killing more than 50,000 people.

Syrian filmmaker Waad Al-Kateab, an Oscar nominee for her documentary For Sama, directed the film which incorporates “CCTV footage from above ground, remarkable first-person documentary footage from under the rubble, extensive verité footage (some recorded on cell phones), drone footage, news and archival footage,” to bring home the devastating reality of the quake. The initial temblor, magnitude 7.8, struck in the early morning hours of February 6, 2023 and was followed hours later by a 7.7 magnitude earthquake.

'Death Without Mercy' (WT)

‘Death Without Mercy’ (WT)

MTV Documentary Films

Death Without Mercy (wt) will stream on Paramount+ later this year. We have your first look at the film — executive produced by Sheila Nevins — in the trailer above.

The catastrophe, “as the filmmaker shows, was both a natural disaster and a human-made disaster,” MTV Documentary Films said in a release. “In the aftermath of the earthquake there was no universal effort to save the injured and the dying under the rubble. Civilians were forced to use their hands and shovels to dig up loved ones and strangers, while the world looked the other way… Death Without Mercy (working title) is chronologically assembled from the reports of hundreds of newscasters, cameramen, and civilians representing the days following this tragic event.”

 Director Waad Al-Kateab speaks onstage at #BoFVOICES at Soho Farmhouse on November 28, 2023 in Chipping Norton, England.

Director Waad Al-Kateab

John Phillips/Getty Images for BoF

In the years before the February 6 disaster, many Syrian families had resettled in southern Turkey to escape the brutal civil war in Syria. The documentary zeroes in on the families of Fadi al-Halabi (the lead cinematographer of the Oscar-winning documentary The White Helmets) and Fuad, noting they “are emblematic of so many of the stories from southern Turkey where many Syrian refugee families had fled to start new lives only to find their lives dramatically affected by the earthquake. Each was away on work travels when the earthquake struck and the film follows them as they race back home to try to locate their family members. Their stories include miraculous survivors as well as the horrific tragedies.”

Nevins said in a statement, “Waad Al-Kateab’s film puts a human face on the inhuman tragedy of a 7.8 earthquake that rocked Turkey and Syria on February 6, 2023. Nature can be cruel, but in Death Without Mercy, we see Man’s cruelty to Man.”

Nevins herself is Oscar-nominated this year for her MTV Documentary Films’ short The ABCs of Book Banning, which she directed and produced. The film is co-directed by Trish Adlesic, and Nazenet Habtezghi.

MTV Documentary Films is likewise in contention for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary Feature category this year for The Eternal Memory, directed by Chilean filmmaker Maite Alberdi. That film — executive produced by a group that includes Nevins, Nina L. Diaz, Liza Burnett Fefferman, and Julie Goldman – earned Alberdi the second Oscar nomination of her career, following 2020’s The Mole Agent.

Watch the trailer for Death Without Mercy (wt) above.

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