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Waad Al-Kateb

Waad is an activist and filmmaker. She has received numerous personal recognitions for her work including the IDA Courage Under Fire Award, a Special Recognition for Courage in Filmmaking at DOC NYC Festival and a place in the 2020 Time100 List of Most Influential People.

Waad Al-Kateb

Who is Waad Al-Kateb?

In 2011, when protests against the Assad regime swept the country, Waad taught herself how to film and became a citizen journalist, determined to document the horrors around her. During that time, Waad began reporting for Channel 4 News in the UK. This series of reports - titled Inside Aleppo - on Channel 4 News became the most watched pieces on the UK news program and received almost half a billion views online and won 24 awards – including the 2016 International Emmy for breaking news coverage.

Waad documented her whole life over 5 years in Aleppo, as she fell in love with a doctor, Hamza; gave birth to their first daughter Sama (Sky); up until their forced displacement out of Syria and the birth of their second child, Taima. This footage became the basis of the feature documentary released in 2019, For Sama. Directed together with Edward Watts, For Sama won the Prix L'Œil d'or for best documentary at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, receiving a six-minute standing ovation.

At the 73rd British Academy Film Awards in 2020, For Sama became the most nominated documentary in the history of the BAFTAs with four nominations, ultimately winning for Best Documentary. The same year, For Sama received a nomination for Best Documentary Feature at the 2020 Academy Awards.

Waad has received numerous personal recognitions for her work as an activist and filmmaker, including the IDA Courage Under Fire Award, a Special Recognition for Courage in Filmmaking at DOC NYC Festival, and a place in the 2020 Time100 List of Most Influential People.

She now works as a filmmaker on various projects, including a documentary on the Olympic Refugee Team, and dedicates time to her advocacy campaign, Action For Sama, which was set up to turn the worldwide reaction to For Sama into positive action for Syrians. 

The campaign, launched in 2019, focuses on utilizing For Sama as a unique educational tool to build more empathetic responses to the situation in Syria and end impunity for the war crimes committed there. Action For Sama’s ultimate aim is to see the perpetrators of war crimes in Syria be held to account - and thereby end the ongoing targeting of civilians and hospitals in Syria.