Title – For Sama (2019)
Directors – Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts (feature debuts)
Cast – Waad, Hamza and Sama Al-Kateab
Plot – A documentary spanning a number of years, all set during the conflict in Syria as new mother Waad films her experience’s during the time for her new born daughter Sama.
“The sound of our songs was louder than the bombs falling outside”
Review by Eddie on 06/05/2020
Before we get stuck into it, I just want to make mention that at the time of writing, For Sama holds an incredible 99% fresh rate on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, a feat staggering for the fact that one sole “professional” reviewer found the need to give a rotten review of this searing document of an horrific moment in human history.
To that reviewer I say, you sir are an idiot.
Moving on from my soapbox and onto the matter at hand, this Oscar nominated documentation of the war in Syria, specifically in the city of Aleppo, focused around Waad al-Kateab, her husband Hamza and their new baby daughter Sama, is one of the most confronting, heartfelt and unique documentary experiences in some time, that while not easy viewing, demands too be seen for its first-hand account of a situation the world as a whole largely chose to ignore.
Filmed by Kateab, as she began to document the uprising in the country that saw everyday citizens stand up to its long tormenting government regime, in turn becoming an account of the world in which her new child was born into and the world in which her and her husband decided to fight for, this is as raw and as intimate as it gets as Kateab takes us into the ground floor of a long lasting conflict that is more impactful and truthful than any news reports we’d care to investigate.
Spanning a number of years, throughout For Sama we are taken into first-hand accounts of the death toll of this conflict, experiences that won’t soon be forgotten as Kateab’s camera refuses to shy away from the harsh realities of the situation, but we are also offered glimpses of the humanity and spirit that exists when no other hopes do, giving the film a rare power to both shock and inspire.
I really can’t recall witnessing a documentary film as frank and unashamed to give us the real details, there’s no sugar coating here, there’s no maybes and might’s, For Sama gives us the real, the true and the horrific and throughout Waad and Hamza make for inspiring central figures, even if at times we can’t come to the full understanding of their decision to remain in a situation that seems so hopeless throughout.
Final Say –
Both an insightful and unforgettable document of the war in Syria and the power of love and parenthood, For Sama is hard to stomach at times but its unbiased look at its subject and touching portrait of humanity with its back against the wall makes for unforgettable viewing.
4 ½ painted buses out of 5