FOR SAMA is both an intimate and epic journey into the female experience of war. A love letter from a young mother to her daughter, the film tells the story of Waad al-Kateab's life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth to Sama, all while cataclysmic conflict rises around her. Her camera captures incredible stories of loss, laughter and survival as Waad wrestles with an impossible choice - whether or not to flee the city to protect her daughter's life, when leaving means abandoning the struggle for freedom for which she has already sacrificed so much. The film is the first feature documentary by Emmy award-winning filmmakers Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts.
A Shattering film about the horrific Siege of Aleppo
For Sama received a standing ovation at its world premiere at Austin's SXSW Film Festival. It also received the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Feature. It is a remarkable film. Each of us tries to go through his/her daily life and pretend there is no place in the world where human beings are being routinely slaughtered as occurred in Aleppo. Waad Al-Khateab is a hero. She and her husband - a doctor - stayed in Aleppo through the worst of the siege. He saved lives and she documented the horrors for the world to see. For Sama presents some of the most unflinching war coverage that I have seen. The beauty of the film is that she presents it as almost a love letter to her infant daughter Sama who was born in Aleppo in the months leading up to the siege. She is trying to tell her story and the story of her city (one of the oldest continuously populated cities on the planet). The contrast between the horror of parents try to care and protect an infant while simultaneously trying to save lives and document the horror is breathtaking and heart-wrenching. It is as if you set a love story amidst the flames of hell. This is a story that needs to be widely viewed and it will be since it has been picked up by PBS and will air on Frontline in the coming months. Everyone who loves children and hates war (and I really hope that is everyone) should see this film.
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