For Sama (2019) dir. Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts
Venue: Harrie Massey LT (25 Gordon Street)
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.
For Sama may not be the first documentary to offer the world a vivid glimpse of the unimaginable suffering of the Syrian people (Last Men in Aleppo, City of Ghosts, and Of Fathers and Sons are just some of the many remarkable pinholes that filmmakers have poked into the most cruel ongoing war of the 21st century), but where its predecessors have often literally salvaged life from the clutches of death, al-Kateab and Watts invert that dynamic.
For Sama captures desperation and chaos. People try to establish routines and live life as normal, but there is no time to feel anything. The war is so normalised that babies no longer cry at the sound of bombs. How we can justify a world like this? For Sama captures the pain of being a mother who brought a child into a world like this. It is about activism and motherhood. Neither Sama nor her mother chose their world, we're all born into a life we have no say over. Very few of us are lucky.
“Sama. You're the most beautiful thing in our life. But what a life I've brought you into. You didn't choose this. Will you ever forgive me?”