Like “Last Men in Aleppo,” “The White Helmets,” and other documentaries before it, “For Sama” offers a ground-level view of the ongoing conflict in Syria. Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts’ nonfiction account of that conflict differs from its predecessors insofar as it focuses on one woman’s experience, however, and for its efforts the film has already won the awards for Best Documentary at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival and the Special Jury Prize at Hot Docs.
Ahead of its upcoming debut at Cannes, where it’s being featured as a Special Screening, the film now has a trailer that has been shared exclusively with IndieWire. Watch it below.
Here’s the premise: “‘For Sama’ is both an intimate and epic journey into the female experience of war. A love letter from a young mother to her daughter, the film tells the story of Waad al-Kateab’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth to Sama, all while cataclysmic conflict rises around her. Her camera captures incredible stories of loss, laughter and survival as Waad wrestles with an impossible choice — whether or not to flee the city to protect her daughter’s life, when leaving means abandoning the struggle for freedom for which she has already sacrificed so much.”
In the trailer, Al-Kateab speaks to her daughter Sama as the conflict worsens and she tries to protect her child from the encroaching destruction. “I know you understand what’s happening,” she says. “I can see it in your eyes. Will you ever forgive me?”
Al-Kateab was spurred to become a journalist by the anti-Assad protests of 2011, and she has been documenting the devastation in Aleppo on Channel 4 News for more than three years now; Watts previously directed “Escape From ISIS,” winning an Emmy and receiving a BAFTA Award nomination in the process.
“For Sama” opens in Los Angeles and New York on July 26 courtesy of PBS Distribution with a national expansion to follow.