For Sama

Syria, 2019, 95’

Technical Film Summary

Director : Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts –
Image : Waad al-Kateab –
Sound : Jez Spencer –
Editing : Chloe Lambourne, Simon McMahon –
Original music : Nainita Desai –
Production / Diffusion : ITN Productions, Frontline – WGBH, Channel 4 –
Holder organization : PBS Distribution, KMBO.


When Waad al-Kateab chooses this name (SAMA) for her daughter, she imagines a sunny sky, without dust clouds or bombs. Far from those that crash on Aleppo, city of Syria, as the 18-year-old begins her studies in 2011. Far from those who destroy her city when she gets pregnant, then gives birth to her daughter Sama in 2015. Because Waad al-Kateab and her husband Hamza chose to stay rather than flee, she dedicated a documentary to him, Pour Sama, in which she recounts their history. For five years, she filmed with a phone, a camera and then a drone the damage caused by the war, the wounded by hundreds and the dead. The life, too, that she carries in her, her marriage to Hamza and the first babbles of Sama. Five years of fierce struggle, which she says she never regretted.

Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts

In 2009, Waad gave up her dream of studying journalism, a job that was too dangerous for her family, and moved to Aleppo to study economics. She is a student when the first demonstrations, in the spring of 2011, of what will become the Syrian revolution and then the war. A little bit after, she joins the student groups that organize the processions of demonstrations demanding freedom and democracy, and she starts filming because she feels that “something important [is] happening.” It is in this context that she meets Hamza al-Kateab, a medical student who will become her friend and then her husband. Waad decides to film with her mobile phone the extremely violent repression of the demonstrations. On September 26th; 2014, Waad marries Hamza. She became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter, Sama, in January 2016, at the beginning of the siege of the eastern part of the city, at the hands of the rebels, by the Syrian regime.