2019 | Documentary | 100 minutes | Arabic with English subtitles
This documentary covers five years in the lives of Waad, her husband Hamza, and infant daughter Sama in war-torn Aleppo, Syria. As Assad brutally tries to destroy the rebels, he bombs and gasses their strongholds, including Aleppo. Meanwhile, Waad films the horrors around her hoping to show this to her daughter when she is older. Waad wants Sama to know what it was like back then and why the family chose to stay in Aleppo rather than flee. Fleeing would mean that Waad would be abandoning her fight for freedom. Waad strongly feels that this cinematic endeavor will help Sama understand her family and what they went through and the tough decisions they had to make. “Sama, I need you to understand why your father and I made the choices we did.” Waad sent her footage to Channel 4 in London where British filmmaker (and director) Edward Watts edited it into a brilliant documentary.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 99%
- Metacritic Score: 89
- Cannes Film Festival: Granted the “L’oeil d’or,” best documentary.
- BAFTA: Received four nominations, the most for a feature documentary. Outstanding debut by a British writer; Outstanding British film; Best Film Not In English; Best Documentary
- Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Documentary, Feature Length
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It’s commonly thanks to individuals with insatiable journalistic instincts that the history of families, cities or entire nations get preserved through visual and written evidence. In the shattering FOR SAMA—the most harrowingly intimate and arguably the best documentary to date on the Syrian conflict—rebel Waad al-Kateab is one such woman born with that restless impulse to document.
Out of the ashes of the Syrian conflict comes FOR SAMA, a remarkable documentary. It is hard-hitting and graphic—some scenes may cause you to look away. Yet it’s also loving and warm, a remarkable blend of reporting, cinema veritable, and essay. Not to be missed.
Sifting six years’ worth of rubble, al-Kateab turns up beauty and one earthly miracle to set alongside the horrors, but horrors there are. If the extremes preclude easy viewing, the documentary remains profoundly moving and unignorable, whether as proof of Assad’s barbarism, or the unfailing ability of this world—and its most engaged cinema—to break your heart and sear your soul.
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