For Sama (18)

For Sama (18)

Directed by Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts
Picturehouse, Liverpool
13th – 19th September 2019

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This is a harrowing account of the civil war in Syria, filmed from what resembles a massive bomb site in Aleppo. All you see is destruction, destruction…. as perpetrated by President Assad and his murderous allies, Russian fighter planes.

The documentary is compiled from over 300 hours of footage filmed by student Waad Al-Kateab, who later became a journalist. She began filming in 2012 to document the protests of her fellow students against Assad.

It is unflinching in its depiction of the bloodlust of human against each other.

Early in the film Al-Kateab questions whether it was wise of her to bring a baby, called Sama, into such a hell hole, and towards the end of the documentary she repeats this question, after witnessing and filming more destruction by Assad’s cohorts.

What is particularly hard to watch, amid the many atrocities perpetrated in Syria on a daily basis, is the effect it has had on children, which will have an ever-lasting effect on them.

Children, as well as adults, have been killed or maimed by cluster bombs, chlorine gas, barrel bombs and air strikes.

Al-Kateab’s close friend and eventual husband, Hamza, set up a makeshift hospital – the previous state hospital had been razed to the ground by the Russians – where he worked ceaselessly to try to save some of the hundreds of casualties brought in for treatment amid the bombardment continually taking place.

A woman, nine months pregnant, was brought into the hospital but was already dead. Remarkably Hamza’a colleagues delivered the baby, who was alive. Miracles do happen.

Al-Kateab, together with Hamza and Sama, managed to escape into Turkey. They currently live in London. She is now employed by Channel 4 News/ITN.

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