Following on from Soviet lives at war, just in case you haven’t yet watched Waad al-Kateab’s moving 2019 documentary For Sama, then you must.
During the siege of Aleppo, Channel 4 regularly featured reports by both Waad and her doctor husband Hamza from the makeshift hospital where he received casualties of the constant bombings. For Waad, filming served as a means of both survival and resistance.
Dealing with a vast amount of footage, the editors’ eventual decision to structure the story through baby Sama was a fine discovery, “moving between dark and light, with Sama as their—and our—lifeline”.
Sama, will you remember Aleppo? Will you blame me for staying here? Or blame me for leaving now?
Amidst all the carnage, at their wedding they dance to Crazy. Their friends Afraa and Salem, and their children, are full of resilience and humour. Waad and Hamza question their resolve not only to bring Sama into the world but, after a brief visit to Turkey, to bring her back with them to Aleppo, ever more dangerous as the regime’s grip tightened.
Among all the media coverage, this is good, as well as this Channel 4 interview:
Note also their project Action for Sama.
Amidst such suffering, expressive culture may seem like a dream, but what will become of the fabled musical traditions of Aleppo?
More recently Channel 4 has broadcast a series of reports from beleaguered Idlib—and here’s an article by Waad al-Kateab on the desperate situation there.
See also Aleppo: music and trauma, and Reviving culture: the Yazidis.
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