Movie Review: For Sama (2019)

Title: For Sama 
Release Date: March 11, 2019
Director: Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts
Production Company: PBS Frontline | Channel 4 News | ITN Productions

Journalist Waad Al-Kateab filmed her everyday life for five years as she finishes her university studies, falls in love, gets married, and has a baby.  The difference from other personal documentaries of this sort is that she filmed this in Aleppo during the Arab Spring, the Syrian Civil War, and the ultimate fall of Aleppo to the forces of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Her husband Hamza was one of the few doctors to remain in Aleppo during the civil war and Waad’s film is unflinching in its depiction of the traumatic violence suffered by the patients brought to the hospital. And yet the movie is also a portrait of hope and perseverance of the people of Aleppo who somehow retain good humor under constant attack.

The movie as framed as a message to Sama, Waad and Hamza’s baby born during the war, explaining why her parents needed to stay.  You may question why anyone would keep a small child in the war zone, although we know the fate of Syrian refugee children was one that also could end in death.  At times I  feel that Waad might have gone to far in filming the brutal violence on people’s bodies and the grief of people watching their family die.  But it is nevertheless necessary to demonstrate the full horror of war and tyranny.  I think this is an important movie that everyone should see but be prepared as it is not easy to watch.

Rating: ****1/2

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