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The Winner of the Best Documentary at Cannes is a Syrian Film Based on Real Life

At the 72nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival, which concluded on Saturday, Syrian documentary For Sama won the Golden Eye prize. Though there were five films by Arab filmmakers representing the region this year, For Sama by Emmy award-winning filmmakers Waad Al Kateab and Edward Watts was the only one in the Special Screenings category.

Syrian Actor Hamza Al Kateab, Syrian Director and Producer Waad Al Kateab and British Director Edward Watts. Photo: Getty

The heart-touching documentary is based on the real-life struggles faced for five years by Syrian director and producer Al Kateab. With conflict-ridden Aleppo as the backdrop, the documentary narrates the story of the filmmaker as an aspiring journalist as she falls in love, gets married to one of the last few doctors in the city and then gives birth to her daughter, Sama. The documentary, dedicated by Al Kateab to her own daughter is being called “a love letter from a young mother to her daughter. Through the film, Al Kateab aims to tell her daughter, the story of how she was born.

At the end of the screening, the film received a standing ovation along with critical accolades and has previously won both the Grand Jury Award and Audience Award for Best Documentary at the SXSW Festival.

In the Palme d’Or category, Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman’s It Must Be Heaven missed the big prize but was given a special mention by the jury. The Palme d’Or was won by Parasite, a dark comedy by Korean director Bong Joon-ho, who became the first Korean in the festival’s history to win the award.

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