For Sama selected for Cannes Film Festival 2019

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I am incredibly honoured and excited to announce that For Sama will be screening at the Festival de Cannes 2019 as a ‘Special Screening’.

To screen at Cannes is a lifelong dream come true. It has happened because I had the privilege to meet and work with the incredible Waad al-Kateab and her husband Hamza.

They and the people of Syria have been through so much. I hope the film honours their story and am so glad it is now gaining awareness through the finest platform for film in the world.

This is the moment we were announced:

For Sama coming to Hot Docs International Documentary Festival in Canada

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Excited to unveil the next step in the For Sama journey: we will have our international premiere at the Hot Docs Canadian Documentary Film Festival 2019, one of the most prestigious documentary festivals in the world.

It’s the first time the film will be shown outside its countries of production – and the Toronto crowd are a sophisticated, engaged audience.

The screening dates are April 29, 30 and May 5th. Anyone passing through town please come along! You can book tickets here.

We are in the documentary competition, waiting to hear what other films are keeping us company. No doubt they’ll be excellent. It’s a great honour to be considered in such esteemed company.

For Sama wins Grand Jury prize for Best Documentary at SXSW!

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We won the Grand Jury award for Best Documentary at SXSW! It’s incredible news, the whole team is overjoyed.

SXSW Awards: ‘Alice,’ ‘For Sama’ Win Top Prizes

Waad and me here with some of our Executive Producer gang Nevine Mabro, Dan Edge, George Waldrum and Siobhan Sinnerton.Hopefully this will make for much greater awareness of the film and the experiences of ordinary Syrians that it portrays.

Countdown to the World Premiere of For Sama

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Truly excited that my first ever feature documentary, that I have been working on with and about the incredible Waad Al Kateab for a year and a half, will premiere at SXSW festival in less than a week on Monday 11th March.

It tells the story of Waad’s journey through love, marriage and motherhood across five years of the revolution in Aleppo, Syria. Waad shot it all herself, giving a unique female perspective on the struggle that has not been seen before.

She, her husband Hamza and their baby daughter Sama are some of the most incredible people I have ever met. They faced the darkest horrors – shelling, airstrikes, attacks by chemical weapons – with courage, honesty and humour throughout.

In many ways, this is the film I have always wanted to make. It tells the truth about the Syrian uprising from its beginning to its end.

At last people will experience the uprising through the eyes of real Syrian people, undistorted by lies or propaganda – and gain a deeper understanding of this tragedy we have allowed to unfold before our eyes.

Even more importantly, it shows how the human spirit is stronger than the weapons of tyrants. An inspiring message for us all in these troubled times.

If you’re in Austin for the fest, hope to see you at one of our three screenings.

 

Happy ending for the real-life brothers from Oksijan

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Some cheerful news to report!

Yesterday Jawad, the elder brother of Ahmad (pictured here) who our film Oksijan was based on, has finally been granted asylum to stay in the UK after a three year wait.

It’s been an incredibly hard time for the brothers who, after surviving such brutal experiences on the journey, then had to live in limbo waiting for the Home Office decision on their fate.

It restores just a little bit of my faith in this country that the government has seen the light and chosen to give them asylum. Now they can get on with their lives properly at last.

Congratulations Jawad – and welcome to the UK.

My first feature documentary to premiere at SXSW Festival

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Glad to finally be able to unveil my first ever feature documentary!

For Sama tells the extraordinary story of Waad al-Kateab, a young Syrian woman who filmed her life through five years of the uprising there.

A journey through love, war and motherhood, it is unlike anything you’ve seen on Syria before, an unparalleled insight into the female experience of conflict.

It has been a great honour and privilege to work with Waad on bringing her life story to the big screen for the past year and a half.

Also exciting to report that the film will have its world premiere at the SXSW festival in March!

Channel 4 and PBS funded the film that was produced by Channel 4 News and ITN. You can read the press release here: https://www.channel4.com/press/news/channel-4-and-pbs-frontline-secure-global-exclusive-emmy-award-winning-filmmakers-waad

Hopefully this is only the beginning of the film’s journey…

New Festival Screenings for Oksijan

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Glad to report that Oksijan continues its march through the international film festival scene, thanks to the help of our friends at Festival Formula who are handling the insanely complicated submissions process.

Latest screenings include the prestigious 41st Portland International Film Festival, the 6th Nepal International Human Rights Festival and an Award of Excellence at the Accolade Global Film Competition.

So glad that the vitally important story of Ahmad’s fight for survival is being shown around the world – hopefully making people think about what more we can do to help the millions of child refugees like him.

Here’s a place to start – offer whatever help you can to the charities Help Refugees and Meena, both of whom were crucial to the effort to save Ahmad and the 14 other refugees trapped with him inside the refrigerated lorry.