While many documentaries have been made about the Syrian conflict, few rival the power, loyalty and truth found in Waad Al-Kateab’s For Sama.
Waad Al-Kateab was just eighteen when she first documented the civil war in her hometown of Aleppo. The footage shows a group of college students, vandalizing the school’s wall in protest of the change about to take place. While these students, like Waad herself, were brimming with youth and optimism, the documentary is not about hope.
Through a mother’s eyes, For Sama documents a community’s slow submission to tragedy. It is a terrifying film, one that dives into the underbelly of town torn apart piece by piece, in a period where the death toll rapidly rises and peace is measured in the minutes between each explosion.
Waad does not shy away from showing the entire scope of the war in Aleppo. Viewers are confronted with countless scenes of children being brought to the hospital in the aftermath of the bombings. A hand torn off. Faces covered in ash. The loss of innocence, snatched away in an instant by trauma. For Sama, in this regard alone, is a difficult watch, but one of utmost importance.
As the title implies, For Sama is dedicated to Waad’s daughter, Sama. Apart from its honest showcase of the Aleppo war, the documentary follows Waad’s life across four long years: from young adulthood, to falling in love, to the excitement of a new home, to her first pregnancy. For Sama’s intentions are pure. It is a heart-wrenching, eye-opening portrait of a mother and her daughter: a declaration of immeasurable love.