For Sama


For Sama is a visceral story of a mother’s experience of war; a female perspective that has

rarely been exposed so intimately. While starring, filming, and directing, Waad Al-Kateab powerfully mixes political documentary with confessional filmmaking, resulting in a devastating account of the civil war in Syria. Although at times the film feels like one long, harrowing, news feature, it has a reflective, sensitive tone which imbues the footage with emotion, unachievable in a mere report.


Heartbreakingly dedicated to the filmmaker’s baby daughter, the film’s poetic narration is used

as an evocative tool by Al-Kateab; how else could she explain to Sama the impossible decisions she and her partner, Hamza, had to make in order to balance their roles as parents and rebel fighters? Waad explains why she and Hamza take the unorthodox decision to stay in Aleppo with a new-born baby, portraying them as compromised war heroes, and permeating the film with a sense of authenticity and urgency.


Throughout the film, Waad presents her split salvations as her daughter and her camera. Her life

has been reduced to a struggle for survival in an apocalyptic war zone, yet she finds hope in

reporting and mothering. For Sama’s complex and personal portrayal of life under siege is

a remarkable feat of guerrilla filmmaking; we would strongly recommend this unflinching account of the war of our times.