For Sama ★★★★½

For Sama is an act of witness, a document of events that cannot be dramatised. It is the most personal form of history. It turns film itself into memory. It is a letter to a child born in war. For Sama takes us right to the heart of the conflict in Syria. It is about a filmmaker by circumstance, which is perhaps the most necessary voice of all.

For Sama captures desperation and chaos. People try to establish routines and live life as normal, but there is no time to feel anything. The war is so normalised that babies no longer cry at the sound of bombs. How we can justify a world like this? For Sama captures the pain of being a mother who brought a child into a world like this. It is about activism and motherhood. Neither Sama nor her mother chose their world, we're all born into a life we have no say over. Very few of us are lucky.

For Sama is brutal. This is a film of many dead bodies. For Sama is about the children of war and the cries of babies, so dead children are a part of this reality. There's so much blood you can see reflections in it. The director openly admits to being scared of dying. This is an honest film, about a cause that has seemingly lost its war. This is about the moderate rebels, caught between the Assad regime and Islamic extremists. All this waste of life, why do we allow it?

Whilst For Sama is a searing documentary, it shows happiness found in the darkest in times. Snow in Aleppo, life's small pleasures still matter. Midway through For Sama, we witness a miracle birth. There's a baby that should be dead but manages to survive. In that moment the purpose of For Sama becomes clear. There may appear to be no meaning to a world like this, but our need to go on allows us to push for what's right.

Cry for the first time, it won't be your last.

2019 Ranked