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Parents' Guide to

For Sama

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Powerful, intense docu about young mother's war-torn life.

Movie NR 2019 95 minutes
For Sama Poster Image

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Kids say (2 ):

Intimately personal and powerfully universal, this brutally honest documentary is a painful but important to watch account of life during the Syrian war. The hand-held cinematography is so up close that audiences will feel like they, too, are there, running from airstrikes, mourning the deaths of friends and patients, mopping up the seemingly unending pools of blood on the makeshift hospital's floors. But Waad and Hamza's story isn't just one of sorrow and pain -- it's also one of hope, beautifully represented by their baby, Sama. It might seem unthinkable to people sitting safely in first-world countries that Waad and Hamza didn't just choose life in exile, but they were providing much-needed medical aid and citizen-journalist accounts of life in Aleppo and felt a strong duty to stay.

Audiences don't need to know the history of the Arab Spring -- or that the fight to overthrow the Assad dynasty failed -- to appreciate For Sama, because Waad begins the narration with an explanation of the conflict and why it happened. Although she mentions how Islamic extremists tried to take over the rebellion, her focus isn't on the warring anti-Assad factions but rather on her personal struggles and tragedies, mostly concentrated in the volunteer-run hospital that Hamza runs. There are some sweet and happy moments, particularly when Waad explains how she and Hamza went from friends to newlyweds, and also scenes of camaraderie. Waad and Hamza have loving, generous best friends and neighbors -- a family of five that strives for normalcy even as their young children have learned to identify different kinds of war planes and bombs falling on their beloved city. Regardless of your knowledge or opinion of the Syrian conflict, watch this extraordinary film for a thought-provoking lesson in compassion, courage, and the cost of freedom.

Movie Details

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