Anyone who thinks black people are oppressed by white parents who assert they are against the teaching of critical race theory in the schools, or that conservatives who support the (defunct) Remain in Mexico policy are heaping hate on “immigrants,” should be forced to watch the documentary, For Sama (2019), about the killing and destruction in Syria at the hands of Bashar al-Assad. Here is where you’ll witness oppression and hate in this filmed account by a female Syrian journalist, Waad al-Kateab (a pseudonym), and collaborator Edward Watts. At one point Waad, who is married to a doctor named Hamza, says she regrets that she gave birth to her baby—Sama, a girl—in such an environment.
Her camera shows us the city of Aleppo blasted to smithereens. Bashar’s forces are viciously putting down an uprising and many people have bleeding wounds while others are dead. Doctors like Hamza are hard at work, but perhaps the worst thing that happens is that Russian planes, which are there to protect Bashar’s regime, bomb the hospital. The film is shocking, unsettling, though also it is heartening whenever someone is rescued from ubiquitous death. (It happens all too seldom, though). And we get some relief from seeing Waad and other Syrians being allowed to go into exile instead of suffering in Aleppo. This deal comes from Russia, Bashar’s ally, and it is no surprise when the Syrians express uncertainty over being able to trust the Russians.
The daily efforts of Waad and Hamza to stay alive are done, Waad says, for Sama, for her sake. Hence the doc’s title. The parents love and enjoy their child—there are domestic scenes here both pleasant and interesting—and one hopes they will eventually love and enjoy life. At least one hopes it if he doesn’t feel oppressed when he shouldn’t.