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 in the documentary category. You can stream For Sama below.

For Sama (credits)

This press release has been updated to include For Sama‘s 2020 Peabody Award win in the documentary category. 

Anne Husted

Anne Husted, Series Publicity Manager, FRONTLINE



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