She is as beautiful as a day without bombing. But she chose to live and give life under the bombs. Because she wanted to stay in her city and because"We did not think the world would let it go". Waad al-Kateab says it from the beginning of the film by addressing Sama, his daughter, who is born in besieged Aleppo. Heroine, witness, author, cameraman and co-director with the British artist Edward Watts For Sama, the young Syrian woman delivers an intimate account of these months too quickly and unfairly forgotten by a political and human shift of the Syrian conflict.
When, in the summer of 2016, the trap completely closed on the 300,000 or so inhabitants of the greater half of the second city of Syria who had escaped for four years under the control of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Aleppo the rebel was already largely devastated by the bombings. But "In liberated Aleppo, we had finally found a homeland", said Waad who had taken the party of the revolt against the dictatorship and a mobile phone in hand in 2011 to clandestinely film the images of the first demonstrations in his university. She will not let go of the camera and will be one of the few women "citizen journalists" to report for television, while filming her own daily. This one is made as much horror scenes in the hospital set up by her husband doctor, who greets the wounded shredded after the air raids, than the first smiles of his baby, Sama.
To rereadAll our articles about life in Aleppo
For in this filmed account of a descent into hell of the besieged city, pounded and little by little hungry, the images of affliction and comfort are interposed. After the unbearable sight of a mother screaming at her dead child to wake up to return home, the blooming garden embellishes the honeysuckle of the little house rented by the beautiful couple that forms Waad with Hamza. The scene of their wedding in the middle of the war, she in white dress impeccably made up and coiffed, him in costume, dancing slow, almost smells the midinette. "The sound of our songs has dominated that of the bombs", says Waad, commenting on the images of his happiness. The next moment, she films a boy of about ten years who cut out paper characters representing his friends killed but with whom he continues to play.
We go from panoramic shots of Aleppo on fire and smoke to the confined spaces of the underground shelters and still of the hospital, central character of the film, where even doctors are killed but resuscitated babies. Then comes the most heartbreaking denouement of the tragedy of the siege of Aleppo, that of the capitulation followed by the deportation of all the inhabitants of the city. Thousands of families, women, children and old people, faces defeated, advance under the snow of December to the buses that came to evacuate them from their native land. "All our sacrifices have been in vain. But I do not regret anything and if it was to start again, I would do everything I did ", says the heroine-director at the end of her film. While claiming his committed work, Waad al-Kateab manages to avoid if not the moralization, at least the boredom and the guilt to his public.
For Sama of Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts (1:35)
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