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Director-producer-cinematographer Waad al-Kateab.Credit:Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

FOR SAMA (95 minutes)

Sofitel, August 8, 4.15pm

Sama is the daughter of Hamza and Waad al-Kateab, student friends who went through the Arab Spring together, stayed in Syria to defy the regime of Bashar al-Assad when the war began, and gradually fell in love.

Hamza was a doctor trying to keep the last, barely functional hospital in Aleppo alive. Waad became a journalist whose fearless excursions with her camcorder won her an Emmy for live coverage.

Waad gave birth to Sama in 2016 as bombs rained overhead and, from the first, she didn’t cry like normal children.

Waad’s extraordinary documentary, put together in collaboration with award-winning Channel 4 documentary maker Edward Watts, won both the jury and audience prizes for documentary at South by South-west.

By zig-zagging across the years from 2012 to the present and back again, Waad hopes to give her child some kind of explanation as to why they refused to leave Syria – at least until 2016, when Assad’s henchmen came after them.

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