For Sama: Acclaimed Syria documentary wins British Independent Film Awards

Middle East
Waad al-Kateab and Sama, who was born during the Syrian conflictImage copyright Courtesy of ITN Productions & Channel 4 News
Image caption Waad al-Kateab and Sama, who was born during the Syrian conflict

For Sama, a documentary about a young mother’s experience of the Syrian civil war, has won the top prize at the British Independent Film Awards.

For Sama picked up four Bifas including best British independent film.

The movies it beat to that prize included Armando Ianucci’s Charles Dickens-inspired film The Personal History of David Copperfield.

Ianucci’s film, which stars Dev Patel, won five Bifas including best supporting actor for Hugh Laurie.

Speaking at Sunday’s ceremony, Patel, who was nominated for best actor, said the film industry was at the “beginning of a movement” regarding colour-blind casting.

“I think wonderful things are happening,” he said. “The fact that I get to be in a film like this is amazing.”

He was beaten to the best actor award by Only You’s Josh O’Connor, who can currently be seen playing Prince Charles in Netflix’s The Crown.

Elsewhere at the London event, Renée Zellweger won best actress for her portrayal of Judy Garland in Judy.

Waad al-Kateab and Edwards Watts were jointly awarded best director for For Sama. Al-Kateab shot the footage in Aleppo, where her daughter Sama was born in 2016 and where her husband is a doctor.

The Independent described the documentary as “one of the most profoundly intimate depictions of the Syrian conflict ever put to film”, while The Guardian said it was “profoundly moving and unignorable”.

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Media captionFor Sama: Film captures life in Aleppo conflict

Bifa winners 2019

  • Best British independent film – For Sama
  • Best actress -Renee Zellweger (Judy)
  • Best actor – Josh O’Connor (Only You)
  • Best supporting actress – Ruthxjiah Bellenea (The Last Tree)
  • Best supporting actor – Hugh Laurie (The Personal History of David Copperfield)
  • Best director – Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts (For Sama)
  • Best screenplay – Armando Iannucci and Simon Blackwell for The Personal History of David Copperfield
  • Most promising newcomer – Sam Adewunmi (The Last Tree)
  • The Richard Harris Award for outstanding contribution by an actor to British film – Kristin Scott Thomas
  • Special jury prize – Amanda Nevill
  • The Douglas Hickox Award (debut director) – Harry Wootliff (Only You)
  • Debut screenwriter – Emma Jane Unsworth (Animals)
  • Breakthrough producer – Kate Byers, Linn Waite (Bait)
  • The Raindance Discovery Award – Children Of The Snow Land (Zara Balfour, Marcus Stephenson, Mark Hakansson)
  • Best casting – Sarah Crowe (The Personal History of David Copperfield)
  • Best cinematography – Benjamin Kracun (Beats)
  • Best costume design – Suzie Harman, Robert Worley (The Personal History of David Copperfield)
  • Best documentary – For Sama
  • Best editing – Chloe Lambourne, Simon McMahon (For Sama)
  • Best effects – Howard Jones (A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon)
  • Best make-up and hair design – Jeremy Woodhead (Judy)
  • Best Music – Jack Arnold (Wild Rose)
  • Best production design – Cristina Casali (The Personal History of David Copperfield)
  • Best sound – David Bowtle-Mcmillan, Joakim Sundstrom, Robert Farr (Beats)
  • Best British short film – Anna
  • Best international independent film – Parasite

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