Aaron: I'm here with Waad Al-Kateab, an award-winning Syrian filmmaker whose powerful documentary, For Sama, shows five years of her life after the uprising in Syria. Now living in London she continues her work as a journalist and campaigns to prevent targeted attacks against healthcare workers and facilities in Syria. How are you Waad?

Waad Al-Kateab: Hello, how are you? Thank you so much for your time.

Aaron: Thank you for yours. Firstly, I just wanted to ask you, how are you and Sama and Taima and Hamza?

Waad Al-Kateab: So we are really all doing well with the lockdown. We are like any other family now struggling just to survive this boring time.

Aaron: Could you start by describing what you do in 15 words or less?

Waad Al-Kateab: I'm a filmmaker, a journalist and activist and I'm trying to keep our story of Syria and of what I've been through and still keep fighting to find justice.

Aaron: What advice would you give to a 10 year old you?

Waad Al-Kateab: I want to tell them to open their eyes and their hearts to the whole world and look beyond, beyond, beyond what you can see exactly.

Aaron: What would you say was the most important lesson you learned over the last few years?

Waad Al-Kateab: Find hope everywhere and anywhere. If you couldn't find that hope, to create that hope.

Aaron: During the five years in which you filmed For Sama, was there a particular moment when that became clear to you?

Waad Al-Kateab: When I was filming the baby born story. And I was filming a dead kid, a dead baby who's just, like, been born now and he's dead, like awful for me to see another mum who gave birth to her first child with this not happy ending, as we all expect. I don't know why and I don't know how I just kept filming. And when that baby opened his eyes, it was just one of the moments where I can get hope from for the whole of my life.

Aaron: What would you say that you're most proud of?

Waad Al-Kateab: I'm so proud of all the people who I know and all the people who I met in Aleppo and all of the people who keep telling the Syria story. There's an amazing from so many activists and people in so many different sectors and it's all together making the amazing story of the Syrian people.

Aaron: Is there anything that you'd like to achieve, which you have not achieved yet?

Waad Al-Kateab: I just would love to keep going and keep doing important stuff, mainly about the whole Syrian people suffering and what we've been through all but also in totally different circumstances. I'm working now at the news with Channel 4 news trying to do some reports about Coronavirus and finding really different stories. I hope just like I will find always like my way of doing important stuff.

Aaron: What would you say is the most important human right to you, and why?

Waad Al-Kateab: Freedom. So many people in Syria for this ask. If we are free, if we can talk free, if we can express ourselves and our dreams, this is all will help us to build our free country with dignity and just a good future.

Aaron: When the conflict ends society will continue to be extremely divided between those that support the government, we assume, and those that back the rebels, how do you begin trying to bridge those divisions?

Waad Al-Kateab: I don't think that division will stay for a long time when we have justice, we will find an amazing community. We will know exactly what freedom means that will give us so much things to pass all the division.

Aaron: While you were in eastern Aleppo, were there many times where you had to work with people who you held different views with or who you disagreed with, and how did you do that?

Waad Al-Kateab: Most of us as activists and people who believe in freedom and dignity and the free country, we are all believed that we want a better future for all of us. So let's just forget a little bit about what we agree or disagree now and just focus that we are all against the regime, we are all against that killing, we all want a better future for us, for our children. And just think about how important is it for our stories to be recorded and to be documented and to be told out and that's what makes me just like you know, focusing on this forgetting all the other things.

Aaron: Waad, thank you so much for your time. It's been a pleasure speaking to you. Take care and all the best.

Waad Al-Kateab: Thank you so much. Thanks. Thank you
Health, Justice

Waad Al-Kateab: Health Workers Are ‘Our Only Hope’

Published on 15 Jun 2020

In less than a decade, Syrian filmmaker and activist Waad Al-Kateab has gone from filming life inside a besieged Aleppo hospital to walking the red carpet at the Academy Awards ceremony

Her Bafta-winning documentary For Sama, framed as a love letter to her infant daughter, provides harrowing evidence of how healthcare facilities have been “systematically targeted” by the Syrian regime in violation of international law.

Waad now lives in the UK, where she has been granted refugee status, and continues to work as a journalist documenting health workers amid the Covid-19 crisis while campaigning to for justice in her homeland.

In this video, she answers EachOther’s Big Questions. Read the full interview with Waad Al-Kateab on our website.

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