For sama: The Story of Infant Nominated for Oscar

for sama

The 100-minute movie takes your breath away!” This is what you would hear and you yourself would repeat after watching the movie entitled “For Sama”.

Its incidents bring tears to your eyes, deep sadness to your heart, and probably also joy because the movie’s star is still alive! 

To cut it short, it is a movie about horror and hope; fear of death and the unknown; and hope expressed by the eyes of a little girl named Sama (sky in Arabic). 

In the movie, Waad al-Kateab, Sama’s mother who is also the director, expresses several messages to her daughter explaining to her the tough decision of staying in Syria, and particularly in Aleppo, at the time when the conflict has reached its bloodiest climax. The husband, Hamza al-Kateab, works at Al-quds Hospital which is based in the war-torn city. 

Waad’s character combines the mother who fears about her daughter’s life and the journalist who strives to report and document news about the incidents taking place in her city, Aleppo.

“I don’t want to die!” screamed Waad repeatedly in many scenes in the movie while depicting heartbreaking farewells and goodbyes or scenes of children dying as a result of bombardment and their mothers inconsolably screaming in agony for their loss. 

“At the beginning of filming For Sama, the aim was not to make a documentary.

I simply started shooting the scenes because I did not know when I, my daughter, or my husband would die so I wished to have our life documented so as to act as evidence of what truly happens in Syria!” Waad said. 

Waad ran her camera in 2012 to document the protests staged by her student colleagues against the Syrian regime. She also documented Aleppo falling under the siege then the first moments of receiving her first newborn baby, Sama.  

Sama born in July 2016

for sama

“Sama! Will you forgive me? You’re the prettiest thing that ever happened in our life. But what a miserable life I brought you in? You didn’t choose to be born in such circumstances. Will you forgive me?” Waad said to her baby girl while holding her in her arms for the first time.

“When I first saw you, I remembered all the distress, hardship, and all the people we had lost. But your presence has given me hope to start over!” the mother added with her eyes full of tears. 

Hamza and Waad picked Sama to be the name of their daughter who was born under the siege hoping her name would make their dream come true and they would enjoy, once again, a sky with neither bombs nor smoke but only one with clouds, birds, and the sun. 

For Sama was awarded the Prix L’Œil d’Or for Best Documentary at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and it also received an Oscar nomination as the Best Documentary. 

Commenting on the nomination, Waad told Tiny Hand: “We are pleased For Sama received an Oscar nomination and we are proud of the success it has achieved.

The movie received significantly considerable attention; and this has pleased us because it shines a brighter light on the things that sadly continue to happen in Syria, particularly in Idlib. Unfortunately, the story has not ended yet and the people of Syria are still suffering from the same hardship we had endured. I wish the movie can act as a new platform that conveys the truth of the crimes being committed in Syria!”  

The co-director of For Sama, British filmmaker Edward Watts, said: “the movie shows that the human soul is stronger than the tyrant’s weapons, and this is a message of inspiration to all of us at such tough times!”