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“For Sama”: Gut Wrenching Syrian Tragedy

I am a bit of a dinosaur schooled in the British tradition (not that the Brits adhered to it) where I was taught killing civilians is unacceptable in conflict. However witness Syria, The Congo, Rwanda, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Tokyo, Dresden and Berlin and civilians are legitimate targets.

Waad al-Kateab is a young Syrian mother in Syria’s Aleppo who filmed her life experiences in Aleppo for 5 years. It is quite clear from this real-life documentary Assad and his Russian allies bomb and gas without mercy the “rebels” in Aleppo attempting to break away from Assad’s murderous regime.

This is a jarring experience making one jump at every rocket attack. There is carnage everywhere. Bleeding victims, hundreds of fatalities and gallons of blood with no respite.

Waad al-Kateab went to university in Aleppo at age 18 her parents warning her to be careful and admonished her for being reckless. She admits she only understood the veracity of her parent’s statement when she gave birth to Sama. She wonders if Sama will ever forgive her for staying in Aleppo as it slowly was strangled by the regime with the backing of the Russian military.

Waad al-Kateab states she is making the film for Sama. She marries Dr. Hamza a newly graduated doctor that runs a hospital caring for civilian victims. That hospital and many other is specifically targeted by the regime and the Russians for destruction.

Despite all the unbelievable suffering the citizens of Aleppo display a grim sense of humour and hope for peace which never comes. Young children dying before your eyes, families wiped out, hospital hallways covered in pools of blood with dead bodies stacked in rooms. It is about too much for a Canadian brain to process. One defining moment of hope in the midst of this devilish misery is a C-Section on a 9-month shrapnel ridden pregnant women of a baby that looks still born that which much slapping and massaging finally comes to life.

Although a gripping documentary I am puzzled why Waad- al-Kateab says in the closing moments of the film that everything Hamza and she did was for Sama. I think what they did was more for us to see what really happened in Aleppo. But I will not question her motives.

This documentary is very much awarded including the best documentary at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. The film opens in select theatres in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco on July 26th, 2019 with a United States theatrical roll-out to follow. Details as to a Canadian release are unknown at this point.

This 95 minute 2019 film is directed by Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts. To watch the trailer ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsvBqtg2RM0

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