Review: For Sama (2019)

Directors: Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts
Genre: Documentary
MPAA Rating: NR
Release Date: 7/26/19 (Limited Theatrical)
Where to Watch: PBS
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

For Sama is a tremendous achievement. Filmed and directed by journalist Waad al-Kateab, this powerful, haunting, and real documentary is an intimate look at the female experience of War — in particular, a young mother’s experience in the former bustling town of Aleppo. Al-Kateab’s filming covers five years in the Syrian war, beginning from her time as a young graduate student and ending with the forced exile from her home.

For Sama is dedicated to her young daughter, Sama, and for much of the film she is speaking directing to her child; she adores her beyond measure, but feels guilt for bringing her into a world in which there is a constant struggle for survival and fear of death.

Al-Kateab never shies away from filming the daily trials of her life, including the frequent Russian bombings, which are often followed by heartbreaking coverage of grieving family members. As difficult as it is to watch at times, this film is essential viewing. If you don’t feel any sympathy towards the people featured in this documentary, then you have no soul.


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