Syrian journalist Waad Al-Kateab, who for five years recorded the destruction of Aleppo, the siege and the constant bombardments by the army, assures in an interview with Efe that her documentary Para Sama, available on Netflix, is an explicit complaint against Bashar Al -Asad.
“I want to send a message, a truth that I want to be known: in Syria there has not been, nor is there, a civil war, there has been a revolution and the people have not been evacuated but displaced. It’s my responsibility to let people know, and anyone who watches the film will know, ”Al-Kateab states softly but firmly.
Narrated in the first person by herself, the documentary, which was nominated for the Oscars, dates back to the moments before the war in Syria when the journalist and her doctor friend Hamza do community work and prepare to overthrow the regime of Syria. Asad. They both study at the modern university in Aleppo and are part of the protests against the dictatorship in the Arab Spring of 2011.
Waad Al-Kateab’s camera recorded the destruction of the city, the bombings of civilians and hospitals, and the pain and tears of his neighbors and friends, as well as his own love story, his wedding, the birth of his daughter Sama. and his desperate attempts to get the international community to understand and support the dissent.
Now without the hijab that accompanies him in each shot of the film, its director and protagonist Waad Al-Kateab speaks with Efe from his simple home in London.
The filmmaker has lived in England with her family for a year, after passing through Turkey after leaving Syria (as seen in the film, by a pure miracle); Sama already goes to school and her little sister to kindergarten. Waad tries to work, but this is still a ‘landing’ moment, he explains.
He does not maintain contact with anyone in Aleppo to protect them, he says, because the situation, after the film “has become dangerous, we have to pretend like we do not know each other, although we know about them through the news. The situation is very bad – he laments – now on with the covid. The regime is not giving correct figures, and they continue to arrest people ”, he adds.
Although the young Syrian “does not see clearly” the future, she continues to do what she thinks she should do; It has just started working on two projects on the situation of refugees and Syrian communities, but always with the aim of its government taking responsibility.
“The situation is very bad and I do not see possibilities for change, and less, immediate, but we must continue working in favor of justice, so that these people (the government of Syria) are accountable and one day can reach a minimum of democracy and dignity for Syrians, ”he says.
Half co-directed with the British Edward Watts, the documentary took many years of work: “He had been doing docus for 12 years and for me it was the first time; We started with 500 hours of recorded material and argued, almost fought – he laughs – for each frame. But we never had important differences, he left me the last word, he respected me, and that was very important to me ”.
For Sama, he does not waver from the crudest images: dead and bloody children of all ages, adults broken with pain, morgues where corpses wrapped only in a dirty sheet accumulate, sick people lying on the floors of hospitals and tiles marked by trails of blood while next to, without noticing anything, little Sama plays.
This kind of harshness affected the sensitivity of some who accused Al-Kateab of not putting filters. The filmmaker says that “there were brutal things, much more serious crimes and crimes” that she captured because she was there.
But he assures that they always opted for “a balance” between explaining what war is – death and destruction – and that people wanted to continue watching the film. “In a war there is nothing soft,” he replies.
He also tells that for Sama it was not the legacy for his daughter from the beginning; It was at the end of 2016, when Waad started working with Watts, already in Turkey, that it took shape. “I have needed time to assimilate that material,” he confesses.
“I don’t know when I’ll show it to my daughter,” says the director, who is studying the possibility of making a version for teenagers. “It is important that young people know that there are places like Syria where they are killing children.”
Today, Al-Kateab only aspires that whoever has the opportunity to see the film, invite others to see it: “It is our responsibility -anima-, nobody can stare out the window, as now with the covid, isolating themselves from what what happens outside; we must sensitize others so that, when they see what we are going through, they will spread it around the world ”.