BY: FRANCINE ERYKA ROJAS HIPOLITO
This documentary about the Syrian Civil War is profoundly moving. Framed as an open letter from a mother to her daughter, there is a line in For Sama which said: “Sama, I’ve made this film for you. I need you to understand what we were fighting for.”
For Sama was directed by Waad Al-Kateab and was produced alongside the British filmmaker, Edward Watts. It was first released on July 26, 2019 in the United States.
The documentary starts with Waad and the then new-born, Sama. The first few minutes depict the first-time mother putting her daughter to sleep in the midst of an airstrike. She is seen softly singing lullabies to Sama – a stark contrast to the blaring roars of the fighter jets outside – before it transits to the beginning of the revolution in 2012.
The documentary sheds light on the Syrian Civil War in an astonishingly intimate way through Waad’s “home videos”. Cinematography wise, she had very limited resources: a handheld camcorder and a DSLR. Everything else was as raw and authentic as it can get. From the tears, she shed upon losing her colleagues to the war, to the ones she cried as she held Sama for the first time.
Prior to making the documentary, Waad was just like any regular university student who frequented the protests. As the revolution slowly turned into war, Waad, took it upon herself to document the conflict as a journalist and a reporter for different channels globally.
For Sama offers a perspective that’s unique; an admirable display of the role of journalism in such dire circumstances. The documentary showed everyday life in the Syrian city of Aleppo during the siege and the people’s determination to live freely as they should in their own land – a display of optimism and hope at its best. “Lots of airstrikes today. But it didn’t hit us,” celebrated Waad in one of the scenes.
AWARD WINNER: Since the official release on July 26 2019, For Sama has won over 10 awards in international festivals including the prestigious, Cannes Film Festival. (PHOTO: IMDB)
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