For Sama – Film Review

At the beginning of For Sama, we meet Waad Al-Kateab, an 18-year-old student studying at Aleppo University in Syria. She is also the producer, director and cinematographer of the film. The documentary takes viewers on a full tilt, uncensored and emotional rollercoaster ride through the civil uprising and war in Aleppo.

In 2011, civil unrest broke out across Syria, with residents fed up with the government. The situation quickly escalated to violence from government crackdowns, resulting in hundreds of deaths and many more injuries. Eventually civil war breaks out and Aleppo is under siege, with constant attacks and daily bombings. 

Waad Al-Kateab’s husband, Hamza, is one of only a few doctors remaining in Aleppo, operating the last remaining hospital in the city after all the others were destroyed by bombs. Hamza’s hospital has one advantage, it isn’t listed on any maps, as it was never actually a hospital!

Through Waad’s camera we witness the daily struggle of hospital staff, as wounded and often already deceased people stream through the front doors. Waad makes no attempt to censor these horrific images, giving a real in-your-face experience of war.

What makes this documentary really shine and gives the film it’s title, is Waad’s narration. She narrates the film as a story, as if it’s a private tape for her daughter, Sama, giving her a history of her mother and father’s early life together, and the first year or so of Sama’s life. Due to this style of narration, it keeps you guessing as what is going to happen next, and wondering if everyone will survive.

For Sama is not simply a story about civil war and injustice. It is a love story that takes place in a war zone. The product of that love story is Sama, a beautiful baby girl who spent the first year of her life living in a makeshift hospital and survived daily bombings. For Sama opened my eyes to the hell of living in a war zone and made my heart ache for all the men, women and children that were casualties of this war. I can definitely see why this film has picked up a slew of awards. So do yourself a favour and watch it.

For Sama is now available in select cinemas and on streaming services everywhere.

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