A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Promotes courage and resistance to oppression, community, perseverance and compassion, sharing skills and resources, standing up for your beliefs.
Positive Role Models
Waad and Hamza are intelligent, generous, compassionate. Hamza and friends start a hospital, and Waad records events and shares them via social media to help viewers around the world know what's happening in Aleppo. They both love their daughter and their friends fiercely. Their community of friends is supportive and encouraging.
Violence & Scariness
Intense, graphic footage of real people, including children, injured, bleeding, dying, dead. People die from bombs and air strikes. People wail, scream, cry, collapse over the death of their loved ones. There are moments when it seems like people that viewers care for may be hurt, caught, or killed.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A married couple embraces, dances, comforts each other.
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Products & Purchases
Waad uses a Sony camera and writes on a Dell computer.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that For Sama is an intimate documentary chronicling filmmaker Waad al-Kateab's life in Aleppo, Syria, during the country's civil war: first as a student during the Arab Spring in 2011 and then as a citizen journalist who falls in love, marries, and has a baby girl named Sama. The film is edited and narrated as a video diary for Sama to help her understand why her parents chose to stay in unthinkably dangerous conditions. (The answer? To help like-minded freedom fighters and civilians.) Expect scenes of intense, graphic, and disturbing violence, including explosions and people -- both children and adults -- who are bloody, dying, and even dead. There are also several scenes of the newly grieving; they cry, yell, and are inconsolable. In some heart-stopping moments, it seems like people are going to be caught or killed. Despite all of the very real carnage it doesn't shy away from showing, the film is thought-provoking, poignant, and educational for older teens and adults, with themes of courage, perseverance, and compassion. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.