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  • Alex First

For Sama (MA) - 96 minutes

Updated: Feb 17

Graphic and confronting, this love letter from a young mother to her baby depicts the horrors of the bloodshed in Aleppo, Syria.

Headstrong, Waad moved out of home at the age of 18 to study at the university there.


She joined the uprising against Bashar al-Assad, met and married a doctor, Hamza, who was also in the movement and gave birth to their daughter, Sama.


There, with the regime supported by the Russians, Waad and her family were witnesses to the atrocities of civil war.


She – as a photojournalist – decided to document everything that was unfolding, as ugly as that was.


She wanted the world to know what was taking place.


She did so with whatever means she had at her disposal – be that a mobile phone or a video camera.


Aleppo is pulverised – many of the buildings left as mere shells and the residents within them slaughtered.


We witness heartbreaking scenes – the dead bodies of children and adults, the result of more and more bombardment.


Children talk openly about death because it is so commonplace and prolific. They see their siblings and friends killed in front of their eyes.


Blood covers the floor of the makeshift hospital Hamza opens.


At one point, there’s not even any fresh water and food is in short supply.


The devastation continues unabated day after day.


Some people move away. Others, like Waad, her husband and daughter and their best friends refuse to budge.


What goes on is appalling in the extreme.


Fortunately, the doco – the debut feature from Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts – lays it bare for all to see. It is yet another example of man’s inhumanity to man.


And what are Waad and her family and friends after? Freedom from oppression.


It shouldn’t be too much to ask for, but that would – of course – mean the overthrow of the al-Assad regime and he is hardly going to sit idly by and let that happen.

For Sama is a remarkable piece of work that deserves to be seen widely.


It is very hard to sit and watch and yet I urge you to do so because what is depicted has to be seen to be fully appreciated.


Unfortunately, it is a story of innocence lost and the trauma left behind.


Rated MA, For Sama scores an 8 out of 10.

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