For Sama

For Sama is a 2019 documentary film, directed by Waad Al-Khateab and Edward Watts and the film is produced by Waad Al-Khateab. The film stars Waad Al-Kateab, Hamza Al-Khateab, and Sama Al-Khateab. The film focuses on the journey of a woman's experience of war.

For Sama
Directed by
Produced byWaad Al-Khateab
  • Hamza Al-Khateab
  • Sama Al-Khateab
  • Waad Al-Khateab
Music byNainita Desai
CinematographyWaad Al-Khateab
Edited byChloe Lambourne
Simon McMahon
PBS Frontline

Channel 4 News

ITN Productions
Distributed byPBS Distribution (US) Republic Film Distribution (UK)
Release date
  • March 11, 2019 (2019-03-11) (SXSW)
Running time
100 minutes
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Syria[1]
Box office$662,221[2][3]

The film had its world premiere at the South by Southwest festival on March 11, 2019[4], where it won the Documentary Feature Competition's Grand Jury and Audience Awards.[5]


The film shows Waad al-Kateab’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria. She falls in love, and gives birth to Sama whilst conflict starts to rise around her surrounding.


  • Hamza Al-Khateab
  • Sama Al-Khateab
  • Waad Al-Khateab


Critical response

On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 100% based on 60 reviews, with an average rating of 9.18/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "As intimate as it is heartbreakingly resonant, For Sama powerfully distills the difficult choices faced by citizens of war-torn regions".[6] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 91 out of 100, based on 15 critics, indicating "Universal acclaim".[7]

Ian Freer of Empire, wrote "It will break your heart", and he further added, "For Sama powerfully mixes the personal and the political to thought-provoking, emotional ends. The result is one of the best documentaries of 2019".[8] David Jenkins of the Little White Lies wrote, "This tough but vital documentary depicts the savage bombardment of Aleppo from a female perspective".[9] Jordan Mintzer of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "[For Sama] The result is a series of deeply powerful images showing the human casualties of a war that most of us witnessed from our TV sets or computer screens, but that al-Kateab and her husband lived on a daily basis for many years".[10] Guy Lodge of the Variety wrote, "This ragged, remarkable act of cinematic witnessing sees a young woman finding her voice — as an activist, as an artist and as a parent — above the crashing, whistling din of warfare. Amid a surfeit of devastating reports from the ruins, it’s one we haven’t yet heard".[11]

For Sama was granted "L'oeil d'or", the best documentary movie award in Cannes Film Festival in 2019.[12][13]

For Sama won multiple awards at the British Independent Film Awards in December 2019 including: best British independent film, best documentary, best director and best editing.[14][15]

For Sama was short-listed by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for the category of outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer.[16]

The documentary has been short-listed for an Oscar in the Documentary Feature category alongside 14 other titles. The nominees will be announced on 13 January 2020.[17]


  1. "For Sama". Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  2. "For Sama (2019) - Financial Information". The Numbers.
  3. "For Sama (2019)". Box Office Mojo.
  4. "For Sama". South by Southwest. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  5. "2019 Award Winners". South by Southwest. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  6. "For Sama (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  7. "For Sama". Metacritic.
  8. "For Sama". Empire. 2019-09-09. Retrieved 2019-09-20.
  9. "For Sama review – A film that must be seen to be believed". Little White Lies. Retrieved 2019-09-20.
  10. "'For Sama': Film Review | SXSW 2019". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2019-09-20.
  11. Lodge, Guy; Lodge, Guy (2019-05-01). "Film Review: 'For Sama'". Variety. Retrieved 2019-09-20.
  12. "« Pour Sama », le massacre des innocents à Alep" (in French). 2019-10-08. ISSN 0242-6056. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  13. "Cannes 2019 : les documentaires "Pour Sama" et "La cordillère des songes" primés à l'Œil d'or". Franceinfo (in French). 2019-05-25. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  14. Stewart Clarke (December 1, 2019). "'David Copperfield,' 'For Sama,' Renee Zellweger Win at British Independent Film Awards". Variety.
  15. Jeremy Fuster (December 1, 2019). "'For Sama,' Renee Zellweger Win Big at British Independent Film Awards". The Wrap.
  16. Chu, Henry (9 December 2019). "BAFTA: 'For Sama,' 'Blue Story' on Short List for Outstanding Debut by British Talent". Variety (magazine).
  17. "Academy Unveils 2020 Oscar Shortlists". Hollywood Reporter. 16 December 2019.

Further reading

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