Immigration and reproductive rights are issues that are relevant hot button topics these days in America. Just this week alone, we have experienced three shooting incidents in less than 72 hours in Texas, Ohio and California. America with each passing day is starting to feel more and more like a war torn country. However, imagine if that was the only type of life you’ve ever known. Imagine that your normal was waking up and going to bed with the sound of planes dropping bombs on the regular.
Director Waad al-Kateab and her husband Hamza al-Kateab know this reality all too well, as this was their ‘normal’ while Russians bombed their beloved town of Aleppo. Waad, a journalist and Hamza, a doctor teamed up with filmmaker/director Edward Watts to document the couple while in the midst of conflict and awaiting the birth of their first child Sama.
Waad bravely documents every single riveting, heart-stopping moment. Moments like when the only hospital left in Aleppo is bombed or the moment an injured woman gives birth only to have CPR be the only thing that brings the baby to life or the moment comrades/friends are losing trying to have a voice that fully illustrates to the world horrors of being bombed by entities who have no regard for human life – children or otherwise. All of this for their beloved Sama.
It’s one thing to see snippets on the news, but another to see the ramifications of war from a civilian, medical and activists point of view. The opening contrasts singing to an infant while air strikes are simultaneously being dropped on unsuspecting civilians. Images of a child crying with blood running down his face, the couple trying to find beauty and some sense of normalcy by purchasing a new house with a garden or watching children paint a bus to make some memories in their young life that will be looked back upon fondly. Happiness and joy over something as simple as a persimmon made me realize just how lucky and spoiled we are are in America.
For Sama is shot beautifully with many overhead aerial shots leaving you breathless and heartbroken all at once. It was released on July 26th and I held this review so that I may have an opportunity to speak with the filmmakers Waad al-Kateab, her husband Hamza and Edward Watts. Having won the coveted Palm d’or prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, these filmmakers seemed poised and primed to be in the conversation during awards season.