For Sama (image 1)

Simple in concept and shattering in execution, blending hard-headed reportage with unguarded personal testimony, it’s you-are-there cinema of the most literal order.

Guy Lodge, Variety

For Sama 2019

Directed by Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts Framing Reality

Shot over five years, Waad al-Kateab’s intimate, Cannes award-winning film addresses her baby daughter and delivers a harrowing account of the war in Aleppo, the devastation wrought on the city, its people and children.

Jul 22

ASB Waterfront Theatre

Jul 30

Academy Cinemas

Aug 01

Academy Cinemas

Syria / UK In Arabic with English subtitles
100 minutes DCP
R16
graphic content may disturb

Producer/Photography

Waad al-Kateab

Editors

Chloë Lambourne
,
Simon McMahon

Music

Nainita Desai

Festivals

SXSW
,
Hot Docs
,
Cannes (Special Screening) 2019

Awards

Golden Eye (Best Documentary), Cannes Film Festival 2019
,
Grand Jury Award & Audience Award (Best Documentary), SXSW 2019
,
Special Jury Prize (International Feature Documentary), Hot Docs 2019

Elsewhere

Sama means sky in Arabic and Syrian director Waad al-Kateab hopes the skies above Aleppo might soon be free of Russian warplanes and the destruction they bring. Sama, al-Kateab’s baby, is named for the sky her mother dreams of, one simply populated by clouds and rain. Taking the form of an address to her daughter, al-Kateab’s film is intimate and powerful, a harrowing picture of an ongoing civil war.

In 2012, al-Kateab met her husband, Dr Zahed Katurji (aka Dr Hamza), at protests against President Bashar al-Assad. Both were dedicated to a new Syria: she, a marketing student, filmed, while he provided first aid. The film is in part a family video diary: falling in love, a wedding, the birth of a child, hanging out with their friends. But for all the irrepressible, relatable joy of these events, shells and bombs are often in the background. In one scene old men playing chess comment on Assad’s long neck and how a long neck means a long life. He’s a bloody giraffe, they exclaim.

Much of the footage is from hospitals, places which also act as Sama’s creche. When Al Quds, a hospital Dr Hamza helped set up, is bombed (and 53 people killed) they forge on and set up another which also becomes their home. The camera does not look away from the brutality. Over and over again dust-and-blood covered children appear; they are traumatised, grief-stricken. Many of them die. As al-Kateab witnesses this devastation she questions her own decision to stay, to bring a child into this world. Co-directed by Edward Watts, this humanist film is a vital addition to a growing canon documenting the ongoing war crimes in Syria. — Catherine Bisley