2019 Film Reviews – 56: For Sama [dir. Waad al-Kateab & Edward Watts; 2019]

There are many moments during For Sama – a first-person documentary account of the recent history of Syria, with a particular focus on the siege of Aleppo – when you feel you have no right to be watching the events portrayed on screen. The intimacy is almost overwhelming – the unflinching portrayal of horror, of death, of birth, love, betrayal, anguish, the bravery (or folly? or selfishness?) of youth… it is all so raw and so brutal, you can’t help but think that staring at it from the safety and comfort of your home is a gross intrusion of privacy. And yet it is a must-see, for it’s spirit, it’s honesty and it’s humanity. Bringing a rare female perspective to this most heart-breaking of modern stories, the film conveys the human dimension of not just this conflict but of all wars with a power that I have rarely seen matched. Do make an effort to find it if you can.


For Sama is available on Channel 4’s on demand service for the next 4 weeks. To read an interview with Waad al-Kateab, click here.

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