For Sama is a clarion call to the ignorant West and a testament to the sustaining power of unconditional love in the face of absolute horror. It is terrible to witness and absolutely essential viewing for all.
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What a talent Waad is. For Sama is a film made with the instincts of a journalist, the passion of a revolutionary and the beating heart of a mother.
Simple in concept and shattering in execution, blending hard-headed reportage with unguarded personal testimony, it’s you-are-there cinema of the most literal order.
The latest in a series of work about the cost of the refugee crisis and human migration, For Sama is a harrowing experience and certainly one of the most essential films of the year.
Following the siege month by month through 2016, the film has a gripping narrative drive, with many sequences that work to variously harrowing and cathartic effect.
Revisiting some of the events that marked Aleppo’s final year under siege, as well as those that led up to them, the film offers up a rare firsthand account of war from a strictly female perspective, focusing on how conflict affects families, and, especially, the hundreds of innocent victims that are children.
The footage, as personal as it is horrific, is often hard to watch.
The activists of this film, including al-Kateab herself, don’t speak in the language of philosophers or politicians. Their quotidian aspirations — to build a garden, to send their children safely to school — demonstrate the brutality of the government’s response, but they also invite viewers to picture themselves in the shoes of these modest political dissidents.
A devastating scrapbook and a confessional journal of sorts. It’s also a personal cinematic endeavor as opposed to a historical crash course in the vein of “Cries From Syria,” another superb documentary on the subject, but one with different ambitions.