Syrian filmmaker Waad Al-Khateab has urged a full house of British and international filmmakers "to make their voices heard defending the Syrian people still suffering from war', after her film For Sama won the Best Documentary Award at the 2020 British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) last night.
"As we're speaking now, the situation in Syria is still so bad," Al-Khateab stated while receiving her award, adding that "as we're speaking there are bombing and shelling on over 3.5 million civilians. These people there in Edleb, they should hear your voice now, they should hear that Britain as a great country will not let that happen again. I know it's so hard."
For Sama, made by Al-Kateab and Edward Watts, which has been nominated for the Oscars too, is Al-Kateab’s love letter to her daughter Sama made of more than 500 hours of footage she filmed over five years, starting as an 18-year-old student in Aleppo witnessing the start of the uprising.
“This award I will dedicate to the great Syrian people who are still suffering until today and the great heroes of doctors, nurses, civil defense... Please, let them hear your voice."
The documentary, initially filmed by a mobile phone and gradually moved onto more professional equipment, chronicles events in Al-Kateab’s personal life: falling in love with her friend, doctor Hamza, their wedding, and the birth of Sama, in the wake of the war.
“Three years ago, we were in Aleppo. We were in a basement of a filled hospital, Hamza, me, Sama and Afraa, and we were hearing the bombing all the time around us. We even thought we should bury our footage because in case we didn’t make it, this needs to be saved."
For Sama has won many awards including the 2019 SXSW Film Festival's Best Documentary and 2019 RiverRun Film Festival's Best Cinematography, and it may snatch an Oscar on 9 February in Hollywood.