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For Sama

Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts

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The Syrian civil war may be the largest humanitarian crisis of our age, and with no end in sight, it’s only right that documentarians are unwilling to let it rest. The last few years have seen several films deal with the subject, but what makes one sincere study of the conflict more essential than another? The answer lies in singularity and intimacy of perspective, and on that front, Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts’s extraordinary war diary For Sama is in a league of its own.

"Depicts a story of how love can bloom in even the direst of circumstances..."

Over the course of several years, Waad al-Kateab has been filming the uprising in her home city of Aleppo, Syria. Capturing the brutal conflict all around her comes with added personal stakes as she falls in love and becomes pregnant with her first child. The idea of bringing a baby into such extreme conditions transforms how she documents her surroundings. She maintains love for her nation and the people around her, hoping this passion can counterbalance the widespread violence her daughter will be born into. While the battles rage on daily, baby Sama comes into the world to a devoted mother faced with the ever-more-urgent decision of whether to let go of the city she dreamed would someday be free of war.

Through the chaotic devastation that surrounds them, For Sama depicts a story of how love can bloom in even the direst of circumstances. Simple in concept and shattering in execution, blending hardheaded reportage with unguarded personal testimony, it’s you-are-there cinema of the most literal order and quite simply, a powerful, essential, and important viewing experience.

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