Syrian war documentary “For Sama” by Syrian Director Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts won the Best Documentary award at the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) last night. The film, which documented a young mother’s (Waad) experiences of the Syrian war has become BAFTA’s most-nominated feature documentary, having been nominated in four categories: Outstanding British Film; Outstanding Debut By A British Writer, Director Or Producer; Best Film Not In The English Language; and Best Documentary. The film is also nominated for this year’s Oscar’s; Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
— For Sama (@forsamafilm) February 3, 2020
For Sama which is named after the filmmaker’s daughter, described as “A love letter from a young mother to her daughter”, views the Syrian conflict through the prism of the female experience of war and tells the story of Waad as she lives through five years of conflict in Aleppo and follows her through marriage, childbirth and wrestling with the decision to flee her city and homeland for a better future for her family.
EVENT: Screening of ‘For Sama’
— For Sama (@forsamafilm) February 2, 2020
Waad started shooting footage in Aleppo in 2011 in the early days of the uprising, first using her mobile phone and then using a small handheld camera. Originally, she wanted to document the anti-government protests in the city, but found herself filming much more and eventually distancing her personal experiences from footage of current events. “Everything I went through while I was doing the film — I didn’t expect to do a film, even — to be here now nominated for an Oscar?” she said, reported LA Times.
Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow was present at the awards ceremony and described For Sama as a “remarkable insight into the death of Aleppo”.
Am sitting in the Royal Albert Hall at the BAFTA Film Awards hoping that @waadalkateab stunning documentary ‘For Sama’ wins at least one of the 4
Awards it is nominated for. Her daughter Sama is here too. The film is a remarkable insight into the death of Aleppo: Syria is dying.
— Jon Snow (@jonsnowC4) February 2, 2020
Surrounded by her family, including daughter Sama, Waad dedicated her award-winning film to the people of Syria who are still suffering, including those in the besieged opposition-held city of Idlib. She also dedicated the film to the “great heroes” such as doctors and nurses who have remained. Her husband, Hamza, is a doctor whose efforts tending to patients are documented in the film.
— Riri (@Riri19911) February 2, 2020
Waad al Kateeb, mother of Sama- who at 24 began filming the death of Syrian city of Aleppo, surviving with her husband Dr Hamza who tended the wounded and dead, as the Russians bombed his hospital, has WON BAFTA Award for Best Documentary! ‘FOR SAMA’ co-produced by Channel 4 News
— Jon Snow (@jonsnowC4) February 2, 2020
— Channel 4 Press (@C4Press) February 2, 2020
Many took to Twitter to congratulate Waad and those involved in the film for its success.
— Carole Cadwalladr (@carolecadwalla) February 2, 2020
They only went and won it – from a bombed hospital in #Aleppo all the way to the @BAFTA #Forsama @forsamafilm congrats to all of them and don’t forget #IdlibUnderFire watch @Channel4News for a series of special reports from there soon pic.twitter.com/cUhUH1rF5N
— Ben de Pear (@bendepear) February 2, 2020
— Naga Munchetty (@BBCNaga) February 2, 2020
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) February 2, 2020
People who had watched the film, highly recommended it and urged others to watch it.
#ForSama is the best film I have ever watched: harrowing, uplifting, inspiring … a truly female perspective on the horrors of war and the strength of human connection. It will stay with me forever. Highly recommend. I sincerely hope it wins the Oscar. https://t.co/RHKoRWgC5N
— Deborah Little (@Deb84SLT) February 2, 2020
— James Humpleman (@JamesHumpleman) February 2, 2020
— Beth D'Amato (@BethD2600) February 3, 2020
Last night I streamed the Oscar-nominated @forsamafilm on @frontlinepbs. While hard to watch at times, it effectively mixes the harrowing with the hopeful, and is that rare (only?) first-hand look at war and terror from a woman's POV. #ForSama #Oscars2020https://t.co/wgnFuayH5y
— Margaret Doyle (@MargaretNYC) January 31, 2020
In the build-up to the BAFTA’s Waad, along with other activists including healthcare professionals, took held protests outside the UN headquarters in New York against hospital bombings by Russian and Syrian government forces, with vans with the message: “Stop Bombing Hospitals”.
Syrian Oscar nominee Waad Al-Kateab and health professionals protest hospital bombings in front of UN. #stopbombinghospitals #Syria #ForSama (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images for Physicians for Human Rights) pic.twitter.com/hXrdMB4vY4
— Thomas Phipps🇬🇧🇺🇳 (@thomasphipps) January 31, 2020
However, not all Syrians were in agreement with the accusation. The current MP for Aleppo, Fares Shehabi, who runs as an independent, labelled the film as “cheap propaganda to save Al-Qaeda” in reference to the organisation’s affiliated factions operating in the city of Idlib and accused terrorists of bombing “legitimate hospitals” in Aleppo.
STOP SUPPORTING ALQAEDA
— Fares Shehabi (@ShehabiFares) January 31, 2020
One Syrian who describes himself as Antiochian Orthodox Christian based in Safita, quipped if he had made a documentary exposing terrorism and torture “perpetrated on us Syrians” by “rebels”, which he accuses the film of white-washing, would such a film get nominated for an Oscar? He also conducted a Twitter poll on the question.
If I made a documentary that exposed the terrorism, the mass-murder, the beheadings, the torture, the false-flags, the thuggery, perpetrated on us Syrians by the "rebels" that the documentary "#ForSama" glorifies and white-washes, would I also get nominated for an #Oscar? 🤔
— Hannibal Khoury ⏳ (@The_Cyrenian) January 29, 2020
Nevertheless, the film has been critically acclaimed, with many leaving positive independent reviews.
The BAFTAs inspired me to write a long review of For Sama which has been sitting with me since I was it last year. https://t.co/OwrkNpKRYB
— birthday dice goblin ❤️💜💙 (@millygribben) February 3, 2020
My ★★★★ review of For Sama on Letterboxd https://t.co/7QyZs6itUX
— Special Agent Phillip Jeffries (@davidwill4real) February 3, 2020
— Andrew Scott (@Andrew_J__Scott) February 2, 2020