For Sama

For Sama

January 25, 2020

This event occurred as part of the 19/20 Hop Film season. This is an archived view.

Young mother Waad al-Kateab's candid, SXSW Audience Award-winning documentary offers a remarkable and rare window into a woman's experience of the civil war in Syria.


This love letter from a young mother to her daughter details five years of the uprising in Aleppo, as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth to Sama, all while cataclysmic conflict rises around her. As her camera captures incredible stories of loss, laughter and survival, al-Kateab 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.

The activists of this film, including al-Kateab herself, don't speak in the language of philosophers or politicians. Their quotidian aspirations—to build a garden, to send their children safely to school—demonstrate the brutality of the government's response, but they also invite viewers to picture themselves in the shoes of these modest political dissidents. 

For Sama prompts audience members to ask themselves: How long would you defy tyranny if your world was coming down around you? D: Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts, Syria/UK, subtitled, 2019

Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary Feature.

“Among the many activists who have documented the civil war in Syria, the story of 26-year-old Waad al-Kateab is perhaps one of the most remarkable.”

The Hollywood Reporter

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