FRONTLINE Wins 2021 duPont-Columbia Award for “For Sama”

Waad al-Kateab and her daughter, Sama, paint a bombed-out bus in East Aleppo.

Waad al-Kateab and her daughter, Sama, paint a bombed-out bus in East Aleppo.

February 9, 2021

For Sama, the FRONTLINE documentary in collaboration with Channel 4, Channel 4 News and ITN Productions, was honored with a 2021 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award this evening.

Filmed over five years of the brutal Syrian conflict by filmmaker Waad al-Kateab, the 2020 Academy Award-nominated documentary aired on FRONTLINE in November 2019. For Sama captures al-Kateab’s life in Aleppo, as she falls in love, gets married to one of the last doctors in the city, becomes a mother as the city around her crumbles, and faces the impossible choice of whether to stay in Syria or flee for safety.

Directed by al-Kateab and Edward Watts and narrated as a message to al-Kateab’s daughter Sama, For Sama documents the haunting realities of the Syrian conflict — hospitals bombed, children killed, Aleppo turned to rubble — from a rare perspective: that of a mom unsure of whether her family will survive in the war zone.

“We’re thrilled to see For Sama recognized with a duPont-Columbia Award and congratulate Waad, Ed, and our partners at Channel 4, Channel 4 News, ITN Productions and PBS Distribution on this tremendous accolade” says FRONTLINE’s executive producer, Raney Aronson-Rath. “We’re so proud of all of our nominees this year and are thankful to our viewers, our funders — especially PBS and CPB — and to GBH, for their steadfast support of FRONTLINE’s journalism.”

In the official release from the duPont awards, the judges praised For Sama as a “a powerful, harrowing documentary” that offers “a personal lens into [Syria’s] enduring conflict.”

The 2021 duPont-Columbia recipients were honored virtually on Tuesday night. PBS led with four wins: GBH’s American Experience won a Silver Baton for Chasing the Moon, GBH’s NOVA won a Silver Baton for Decoding COVID-19, and Independent Lens won a Silver Baton for Bedlam. You can read a full list of this year’s winners here.

FRONTLINE has earned 4 duPont Columbia Gold Batons and, including this year’s win, 34 Silver Batons. Since 1942, the duPont-Columbia Awards have “inform[ed] the public about those journalists’ contributions and supporting journalism education and innovation,” the awards committee wrote in its official release.

In 2020, For Sama was honored with a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary feature and a Peabody Award nomination in the documentary category. You can stream For Sama below.

For Sama (credits)



Anne Husted

Anne Husted, Series Publicity Manager, FRONTLINE



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