Creating new perspectives since 2009

Syria film 'For Sama' wins BAFTA award

Syrian filmmaker and journalist Waad Al-Kateab accepted the award with her 4-year-old daughter Sama for whom the film was made

February 3, 2020 at 12:55 pm

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 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’

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”.

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.



READ: US forces expand military presence in north-east Syria

Many took to Twitter to congratulate Waad and those involved in the film for its success.




People who had watched the film, highly recommended it and urged others to watch it.




Syria: 4 Turkey soldiers killed in regime attacks

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”.

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.

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.

Nevertheless, the film has been critically acclaimed, with many leaving positive independent reviews.



READ: 3 car bombs target Syrian regime forces in Aleppo

READ: For White Helmets leader, Oscar win a victory for Syrian people