In 2009, 18-year-old Waad al-Kateab moved to Aleppo to study marketing at the city’s university.
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 of the war. During this time, Waad began reporting for Channel 4 News in the United Kingdom. The reports she made for Channel 4 News on the conflict in Syria became the most watched pieces on the programme, 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 five years in Aleppo, as she falls in love with Hamza – her friend-turned-husband, a doctor – and gives birth to their first daughter, Sama (“Sky”) in 2015, which became the basis of the film For Sama.
For Sama, directed with Edward Watts, 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, For Sama became the most nominated documentary in the history of the British Academy Film Awards with four nominations, winning for Best Documentary. For Sama received an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature at the 2020 Academy Awards.
After fleeing Aleppo in December 2016, Waad, her husband, and their two daughters now reside in London, United Kingdom. Waad continues to work with Channel 4 and dedicates time to her advocacy campaign, Action For Sama, which focuses on raising awareness of the situation in Syria, while seeking accountability for the war crimes committed there.