Syrian war documentary nominated for record number of Baftas

Syrian war documentary For Sama nominated for record number of Bafta awards
2 min read
08 January, 2020
Waad Al-Kataeb's harrowing film tracing 5 years of the Syrian revolution and conflict has picked up more Bafta nominations than any documentary in history.
For Sama directors Edward Watts (L) and Waad Al Kateab at Cannes [Getty]
A documentary about the Syrian civil war has been nominated for four Baftas, the most nominations received by any documentary in the history of the British award.

For Sama, in which filmmaker Waad Al-Kateab documents her and her young family’s life under siege in Aleppo, has received nods in the Outstanding British Film, Documentary, Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer, and Film not in the English Language award categories.

The film, which Kataeb directed alongside British filmmaker Edward Watts, picked up an Oscars nomination for best documentary feature last month after winning best documentary at the Cannes Film Festival.

In a joint statement, Al-Kateab and Watts said: “It is such an honour to be nominated for a prestigious Bafta award, but to be nominated in four different categories is simply overwhelming.

Read more: For Sama: One mother's astonishing tale for her daughter documenting hope and horror in Syria

“We hope For Sama gives audiences some sense of the brutal repression and humanitarian crisis in Syria which continues to this day.”

Produced and later broadcast by the UK’s Channel 4 News, millions watched Kataeb’s heart-wrenching account of five years of the uprising in Aleppo from 2012 to 2016, during which she meets and marries her husband, Hamza, and has a child, the titular Sama.

During the infamous siege of Syria’s rebel-held city, Kateab sent video dispatches from the last hospital in Aleppo for Channel 4 News during a period too dangerous for Western journalists to enter the country.

Kataeb fled Syria in 2016 and was able to claim asylum in the UK where she began working with the news programme to cut 300 hours of footage into a feature-length version.

She has previously said she aimed to make a film that that would capture the imagination of audiences "tired of war films or films on Syria". 

"So our challenge was to come up with a film that was different," she said.

Kataeb said her intention was "to continue to describe in a way that is true and real what is happening in Syria". 

"It's not a civil war, it's a revolution, and unfortunately, we the Syrian people are the ones paying the price," she said.

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