Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts’ “For Sama” was awarded the top prize in the Documentary Feature category at the 26th annual SXSW Film Festival Awards on Tuesday.
In 2011, a peaceful uprising against Bashar al-Assad’s brutal dictatorship in Syria ended five years later in a bloodbath of Russian bombs, leaving the city of Aleppo reduced to ruins.
For those in the U.S., ISIS became the focus, burying the reality of what Assad’s regime was actually doing to its own people with the aid of Russian military while allowing the separate struggles to become muddled as a single event.
The reality couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Amid the turmoil, economics student Waad al-Khateab saw a glimmer of hope in the initial protests on her university campus and picked up her camera. Without knowing how far it all would go, she documented this struggle from its humble origins to its blood-drenched end.
That footage has now been assembled into a love letter to her oldest daughter with the assistance of documentarian Edward Watts.
“For Sama” is also one of the most important films you’ll ever see in your life.
In the Documentary Shorts category, Mohammad Gorjestani’s “Exit 12” was awarded the top prize for his film that centers around former U.S. Marine Roman Baca who opens a New York-based dance company to help other veterans cope with the depression, anxiety, and anger of war through dance and choreography.
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