For Sama is the most searing documentary about war that I have ever seen. Nominated this year for an Academy Award for Best International Film, For Sama presents some of the most unflinching war coverage and remarkable and courageous footage. A love letter to her infant daughter Sama, born in Aleppo, For Sama is a Syrian mother’s first-person account of the bombing of her beloved homeland over a period of five years. Aleppo, at the time, was one of the last strongholds resisting the Assad dictatorship.
Waad Al-Khateab is the Syrian producer, cinematographer and hero of this documentary. She and her equally heroic husband—a surgeon—stayed in Aleppo through the worst of the battles, although their gut reaction was to flee the war zone with baby Sama. It is a young family’s love story set in the terrors of hell. While her doctor-husband saves countless civilian lives, Waad documents the heart-wrenching horrors that civilians—young and old— experience.
It is difficult to pretend there is no place in the world where human beings are being routinely slaughtered after seeing For Sama. A testament to human resilience and sacrifice for the sake of a community, For Sama is highly recommended in order to understand what really happens in war as we bear witness to pain and unimaginable suffering, both physical and mental.
I challenge anyone to watch this film and not be deeply moved.
Note: This film is available on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. There are intensely disturbing images of severely wounded civilians, especially young children.