Ajyal Film Festival 2024

All Films

For Sama

Ajyal Competition

Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts / Feature Documentary / Syria, United Kingdom / 2019 / 95 min / DCP
In Arabic, English / English subtitles
Interests: Documentary


A love letter from a young mother to her daughter, the film tells the story of Waad al-Kateab’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria. We witness her fall in love, get married and give birth to Sama, all while cataclysmic conflict rises around her. Her camera captures incredible stories of loss, laughter and survival as Waad wrestles with an impossible choice—whether or not to flee the city to protect her daughter’s life, when leaving means abandoning the struggle for freedom for which she has already sacrificed so much.

Profoundly heartbreaking and undeniably universal, this relentlessly honest documentary is a painful but essential record of life during the ongoing war in Syria. Filmed almost entirely through phone and hand-held digital camera, the film provides an up-close and harrowingly personal view, intensely capturing the impossible choices faced by ordinary people caught up in conflict. But Waad and Hamza’s story isn’t just one of anguish and grief; it’s also one of compassion and courage, that ends on a note of genuine hope in the wake of extraordinary suffering.

About the Directors

Waad al-Kateab started documenting the horrors of Aleppo for Channel 4 News in a series titled 'Inside Aleppo'. Her reports became the most-watched pieces on the channel. They received almost half a billion views online, going on to win 24 awards, including the 2016 International Emmy for breaking news coverage.

Edward Watts is an Emmy award-winning, BAFTA-nominated filmmaker who has directed over twenty narrative and documentary films. His work tells true stories of courage, heroism and humour from across the world, covering everything from war crimes in the Congo to the colourful lives of residents in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.


Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts
Waad al-Kateab
Chloë Lambourne, Simon McMahon
Executive Producer
Nevine Mabro, George Waldrum, Siobhan Sinnerton, Ben de Pear, Raney Aronson-Rath, Dan Edge
Nainita Desai
Waad al-Kateab
Sales Company
Autlook Filmsales GmbH
Production Company
ITN Productions

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