Tonight on FRONTLINE: “For Sama”

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November 19, 2019
by
Raney Aronson-Rath Executive Producer, FRONTLINE

Tonight, we are proud to present the U.S. broadcast premiere of the acclaimed feature documentary, For Sama.

It’s an unforgettable story that unfolds as a love letter from a young Syrian mother to her daughter, Sama, through the uprising in rebel-held Aleppo.

For the past year, For Sama has been resonating with audiences at film festivals around the world, and winning top awards. For good reason: It will literally transport you to the heart of one of the most tragic conflicts of our time.

It was several years ago that I first became aware of the young Syrian woman behind tonight’s film, Waad al-Kateab. With her face hidden, she was filming short video dispatches of her life inside Aleppo as it was besieged by the Assad regime. 

Now, Waad’s face is no longer hidden. And tonight, you can see her unflinching, brutal footage as a deeply moving story, not just of war, but of love, motherhood and survival.

“This is not just a film for me — it’s my life,” says Waad, who both directed and produced For Sama. “I was afraid I would never tell this story, and that the crimes I witnessed would be never be seen or heard.”

Waad first began filming her life in Aleppo as a college student in 2011, at the start of the Syrian uprising. She kept filming over the next five years — as the Assad regime’s violence escalated, as she fell in love with one of the last remaining doctors in East Aleppo, as they spent the first year of baby Sama’s life trying to survive, and as they faced the impossible choice of whether to stay or go.

In making the documentary, she partnered with fellow director Edward Watts — and the film has been one of the most critically acclaimed of the year. It won the Prix L’Œil d’Or for Best Documentary at the Cannes Film Festival, the Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival, and more than 30 other awards on the film festival circuit. 

Don’t miss the U.S. television premiere of For Sama tonight on FRONTLINE at 10 p.m. E.S.T./9 p.m. C.S.T. Tune in or stream on PBS (check local listings), on pbs.org/frontline, on the PBS Video App, or on YouTube.

It’s been an honor to work with Waad, Edward, and our partners at Channel 4, Channel 4 News, ITN, and PBS Distribution in bringing this story to you.

Thank you for watching.

Raney Aronson-Rath
FRONTLINE Executive Producer

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