For Sama - the documentary telling the story of one woman’s journey through love, motherhood, war and survival during five years of the Syrian conflict — has been awarded the Audience Award at the Sheffield Doc Fest following its UK premiere.
Directed by Emmy award-winning filmmakers Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts (Escaping ISIS), the documentary chronicles the experiences of 26-year-old Syrian filmmaker al-Kateab — who filmed her life in the rebel-held city of Aleppo over five years.
The award, in memory of Dr Clifford Shaw, is voted for by the Sheffield Doc/Fest audience. It recognises the film that receives the highest audience vote during the festival. Audiences votes after two screenings where it received standing ovations and critical accolades.
In addition, FOR SAMA also received a special mention in the Grand Jury Award. Alongside Hazzan Fazili’s Midnight Traveller, Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts For Sama, was described as two unique and unforgettable films examining the most pressing human rights crisis of our generation.
Waad al-Kateab dedicated the award to the people of Syria saying: “We dedicate this Sheffield Doc Fest Audience Award to all the people in Syria who every day are being massacred by the Assad regime and Russian forces ongoing bombardment. This is for you. We will never stop in our quest for peace, justice and dignity for our people.”
Earlier this year, For Sama won the Prix L’Œil d’Or for Best Documentary at Cannes Film Festival. The Golden Eye Documentary Prize was won jointly with Patricio Guzman’s The Cordillera of Dreams at a ceremony in Canneson May 25. Winners of this award are automatically eligible for Oscar submission in the Best Documentary category.
FOR SAMA also won the Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival, where it premiered in March, and received the Special Jury Prize for International Feature Documentary at the Hot Docs Festival.
FOR SAMA is produced by Channel 4 News/ITN Productions for Channel 4 and WGBH/FRONTLINE. The film will begin a US theatrical run beginning July 26 and will premiere on Channel 4 and FRONTLINE PBS later this year.
It is filmed and produced by Waad al-Kateab. The senior producer is Dan Edge (FRONTLINE). The executive producers are Bende Pear and Nevine Mabro, (Channel 4 News) & Siobhan Sinnerton (Channel 4), George Waldrum (ITN Productions) and Raney Aronson-Rath (FRONTLINE).
Waad al Kateab is a Syrian journalist and filmmaker who works for Channel 4 News in the UK. When the uprising began in Aleppo in 2011 she taught herself to film and captured some of the most memorable images of the conflict. Waad started documenting the horrors of Aleppo for Channel 4 News in a series called Inside Aleppo in January 2016 while living in a makeshift hospital run by her husband. Her short news films became some of the most watched news pieces on Syria around the world and won 24 news awards – including the 2016 International Emmy for breaking news coverage. When she fled the city in December 2016 she managed to get all her footage out.
Edward Watts is an Emmy award-winning, BAFTA nominated filmmaker who has directed over 20 documentary films for international broadcasters including the BBC, Channel 4 and PBS in America.