The personal story behind For Sama

Get all the details behind the Oscar nominated documentary For Sama, when creator, producer and director Waad al-Kateab at Copenhagen TV Festival shares all her experiences from making the award winning documentary.

This is not just a film for me – it’s my life. I started capturing my personal story without any plan, just filming the protests in Syria on my mobile phone, like so many other activists. I could never have imagined where my journey would take me through those years. The mix of emotions we experienced - happiness, loss, love – and the horrific crimes committed by the Assad regime against ordinary innocent people, was unimaginable... even as we lived through it.

Director Waad al-Kateab.

For Sama is an intimate and epic journey into the female experience of war. The film tells the story of Waad’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth to Sama, all while cataclysmic conflict rises around her. In 2011, when protests against the Assad regime swept the country, Waad taught herself how to film and became a citizen journalist, determined to document the horrors of the war. Waad documented her whole life over five years in Aleppo, and giving birth to their first daughter, Sama in 2015,  became the basis of For Sama. 

The documentary directed together with Edward Watts won the Prix L'Œil d'or for best documentary at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, receiving a six-minute standing ovation and received a nomination for Best Documentary Feature at the 2020 Academy Awards.