For Sama (DIR. Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts)
For Sama is one of the heaviest documentaries I’ve ever seen – a true battle about staying hopeful in hopeless circumstances.
While her home city of Aleppo crumbles around her, co-director Waad al-Kateab records footage of her life during the Syrian war to catalogue for her infant child, Sama. But what begins as a video diary for the child to reflect on – first-hand evidence that can be used to educate someone on the society they were brought into – turns into a more poignant project over the duration. As Aleppo becomes more of a dangerous environment, a certain sombreness drifts over as movie goers realize that Waad al-Kateab may be making this movie to commemorate her love and protection for her daughter, in case she may not be around to do so in person.
For Sama is an overwhelmingly personal film that offers an unflinching scope of war. However, I do take umbrage with how much brutality the film includes. Granted, an observational documentary like this shouldn’t shy away from tough details. But, I believe Waad al-Kateab (and co-director Edward Watts) have crossed a line by taping countless corpses (including graphic shots of dead children) and pushing their camera into the faces of mourning loved ones. These are low points of exploitation in an otherwise competent film.
Catch For Sama at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on:
Tuesday, April 30 at 12:30 p.m. @ Hart House Theatre
Sunday, May 5 at 12:45 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox
Click here for more festival details and to buy tickets.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie