Syrian War Film ‘For Sama’ Scores Record Number Of BAFTA Nominations For A Documentary

'For Sama'

Despite this morning’s BAFTA noms diversity furor, there are some silver linings concerning inclusion.

Syrian war documentary For Sama, from Syrian director Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts, has become BAFTA’s most-nominated feature documentary, the organization has said. The film is nominated in four categories: Outstanding British Film; Outstanding Debut By A British Writer, Director Or Producer; Best Film Not In The English Language; and Best Documentary.

Female director Al-Kateab scored this year’s joint-most individual nominations (alongside Bong Joon Ho) with four separate nods.

An intimate journey into the female experience of war, the film is a love letter from a young mother to her daughter. It charts Al-Kateab’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth to Sama, all while cataclysmic conflict rages around her.

The festival favorite, whose berths have included Cannes and SXSW, has defied the odds to become a strong contender in the awards race and was last month included on the Oscar long-list for Best Documentary. The film picked up four awards last month at the British Independent Film Awards.

The co-directors said, “To be nominated in four different categories is simply overwhelming. We hope For Sama gives audiences some sense of the brutal repression and humanitarian crisis in Syria which continues to this day. Congratulations to the For Sama team and to all the other BAFTA nominees.”

Executive producer Nevine Mabro of Channel 4 News added, “Waad al-Kateab is a young Syrian filmmaker who is now a refugee living and working in the UK. I am delighted that her directorial debut For Sama has been recognized with four BAFTA nominations including Outstanding British Film. This is an incredible achievement for a young woman who just three years ago, we feared would not make it out of Aleppo alive. We have worked hard to find and develop diverse talent and these array of nominations are hugely encouraging for young women filmmakers everywhere.”

The film is a Channel 4 News & ITN Productions feature for Channel 4 and PBS Frontline.

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