Even when I close my eyes, I see the colour red.” – Waad

Aleppo, July 2016 – Waad al-Kateab, a young Syrian mother has been documenting everything that has been going on in her city, with her handheld camera. Her intimate and uncensored view on the war is as striking as the bombs that go off around her and her family. This isn’t just a segment in the 7 o’clock news, for Waad, this is daily life.

It hasn’t always been like that. It all started in 2012, when she was in her fourth year of her Economics degree. Fellow students are seen spraying slogans on the university walls, in a way of verbally and visually protesting president Bashar. The dictatorship of the Assad family has been going on for decades and the people are fed up with it. Christians and muslims start a peaceful revolution, fighting for freedom. Through the next couple of years, Waad falls in love, gets married and gives birth. She captures every extraordinary moment on film, to one day show her daughter, Sama, the truth from within the war zone that once was their home.

Waad’s footage is compelling and horrifyingly graphic, but I’m thankful someone has put a spotlight on all of it. When tortured and handcuffed bodies are found in the river, civilians try to get them out of the water with fences. These vulnerable citizens have no emergency services to rely on anymore, it’s all about survival. “The only thing that mattered, was the revolution“, says Waad. They were shocked at what the regime was willing to do to stay in power.

In the midst of panic, fear, death and despair, Waad still finds happiness and joy. Her daughter never cries, because she doesn’t know a world without bombs. The way this woman captures all of the moments her family and friends go through, is both heartbreaking as it is eye-opening. War isn’t normal. Thousands of innocent children died here because of greed and power.

For Sama makes you furious, it makes you unhappy, it makes you hope. Hope for a better future for those who had to flee their dreams. Waad al-Kateab‘s powerful story is unprecedented. It grabs you by the throat and leaves a mark on you. This isn’t just a story, this is history.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Review – ‘For Sama’

Reviewed from online screener provided by publicity team, screening as part of Antenna Documentary Film Festival, Sydney, Oct. 24, 2019. Running time: 100 min.

PRODUCTION: An Umbrella Entertainment release of a Channel 4 News presentation of a Channel 4, Frontline, ITN Productions, PBS Distribution, WGBH production. Producers: Waad al-Khateab. Executive producers: Raney Aronson, Ben de Pear, Nevine Mabro, Siobhan Sinnerton, George Waldrum.

CREW: Directors: Waad al-Khateab, Edward Watts. Camera (color, widescreen, HD): Waad al-Khateab. Editors: Chloe Lambourne, Simon McMahon. Music: Nainita Desai.

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