Syrian filmmaker Waad al-Khateab turned camera on herself as she tried to raise a child in midst of annihilation of Aleppo
For Sama has added another major prize to its string of victories at major film festivals, announcing itself as a strong early contender for Oscar recognition.
The documentary by Waad al-Khateab and Edward Watts won L'Oeil d'or (the Golden Eye) at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday, a prize that goes to the best documentary as voted on by an international jury.
The film is a startlingly intimate look at the impact of Syria's brutal civil war where al-Khateab took it upon herself to document the destruction of her hometown of Aleppo by Syrian government and Russia forces. In the midst of filming she fell in love with a brave doctor who tried to tend to Aleppo's countless wounded and they had a baby girl together. The film is a love letter to her daughter Sama and to the city that is crumbling around them.
Filmmaker Yolande Zauberman presided over the jury, which awarded a special prize to The Cordillera of Dreams, directed by Patricio Guzman, a story about the mountainous landscape of his native Chile.
The prizes at Cannes automatically qualify both films for Oscar consideration this year, without the necessity of "four-walling" in theaters. However, For Sama is already set for theatrical distribution in the U.S. beginning July 26 in Los Angeles and New York. For Sama previously won the top documentary prize and audience award at SXSW in March and a Special Jury Prize for International Documentary at HotDocs in Toronto last month. It also won the top documentary award at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival in April.
Watch the trailer here:
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.