Citizen journalist-turned-pro Waad al-Kateab documented the Syrian uprising for Britain’s Channel 4 News all while undergoing the transformative life events of marriage and motherhood in this moving work dedicated to her young daughter. This was this year’s SXSW Grand Jury Award Winner for Best Documentary Feature.
Twenty-six years old Waad Al-Kateab became a citizen journalist in 2011, after protests broke out across Syria against the Assad regime, and in January 2016 she began documenting the horrors of Aleppo for Channel 4 News in a series of films titled “Inside Aleppo.” The reports she made on the conflict in Syria became the most watched pieces on the British news program, receiving almost half a billion views online, and winning over 24 awards, including the 2016 International Emmy for breaking news coverage.
During that time span, al-Kateab fell in love, got married and had a daughter all while filming the violence erupting around her, and in particular, documenting the challenges the conflict imposed on women and children. Along with a close group of friends, she stayed in the city to fight for her dream of a free Syria. She and her family were eventually evacuated from Aleppo in 2016.
In an interview with “Women And Hollywood,” al-Kateab described her film as a message to her daughter by telling the story of her life in Aleppo and to also show the world their personal story, so that the audience can see the truth of what thousands of Syrians experienced. FOR SAMA world premiered at SXSW in March and would win the coveted Best Documentary Audience Award. Apparently, the audience got the message—a story of a young woman’s struggle with love, war and motherhood, while risking her life to document the atrocities of an unjust war. —Anderson Le
Co-presented with Community Partners: Asian American Journalists Association – Los Angeles (AAJA – LA)
Director: Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts
Producer, Screenwriter, Cinematagropher: Waad al-Kateab
Editors: Chloe Lambourne, Simon McMahon
Music: Nainita Desai
Cast: Waad al-Kateab