[#2020oscardeathrace] For Sama (2019)

Director: Waad Al-Kateab, Edward Watts

Cast: Waad Al-Kateab, Hamza Al-Kateab, Sama Al-Kateab

96 mins. Rated TV-14.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Documentary Feature [PENDING]

 

There’s been a lot of cinema in recent years about the conflict in Syria, and many documentaries have presented unique filmmaker voices spread across the area. One of the more recent and unique voices comes from filmmaker Waad Al-Kateab, who documented her life in Syria from 2012 to 2017, from falling in love to getting married to having a child, Sama. The film is made as a video journal intended for Sama to understand exactly what Waad and husband Hamza had to get through in order to survive.

This is another hard-hitting documentary look at the situation in Syria. It was incredibly hard to watch, much as the other documentaries have been, but this one was all the more effective because it follows life, day-to-day, and families, or the potential fracturing of family. I cannot begin to understand the world that Waad and her family existed in, the kind of difficult choices that had to be made in order to survive and live. People need to be able to live their lives, or life just isn’t worth living, and the love letter that Waad tells to her child is so tense and frustrating.

For Sama is an excellent time capsule from Syria, a tale of family, that is jarring and painful to watch, but it contains small moments of beauty as well. The film runs on a little long, even for an 86-minute film, but it works quite well at examining Syria from a different viewpoint. Check it out when you can, the film can be discovered for free care of PBS.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[#2020oscardeathrace] The Nominees for the 92nd Academy Awards

Nominations are officially out for the 92nd Academy Awards, and the #2020oscardeathrace has officially begun. The nominees are listed below, which some notable snubs and surprises throughout. Every year, I take part in a challenge called the Oscar Death Race, in which one attempts to see every nominated film by the night of the Academy Awards. It isn’t easy, and there’s usually a couple remaining films each year, but I love it. Take a look, and let’s get started.

 

Best Picture:

 

Best Director:

 

Best Actor:

 

Best Actress:

 

Best Supporting Actor:

 

Best Supporting Actress:

 

Best Original Screenplay:

 

Best Adapted Screenplay:

 

Best Animated Feature Film:

 

Best International Feature Film:

  • Corpus Christi (Poland)
  • Honeyland (North Macedonia)
  • Les Miserables (France)
  • Pain and Glory (Spain)
  • Parasite (South Korea)

 

Best Documentary Feature:

  • American Factory
  • The Cave
  • The Edge of Democracy
  • For Sama
  • Honeyland

 

Best Documentary Short:

  • In the Absence
  • Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
  • Life Overtakes Me
  • St. Louis Superman
  • Walk Run Cha-Cha

 

Best Live Action Short Film:

  • Brotherhood
  • Nefta Football Club
  • The Neighbors’ Window
  • Saria
  • A Sister

 

Best Animated Short Film:

  • Dcera (Daughter)
  • Hair Love
  • Kitbull
  • Memorable
  • Sister

 

Best Original Score:

 

Best Original Song:

  • “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from Toy Story 4
  • “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman
  • “I’m Standing With You” from Breakthrough
  • “Into the Unknown” from Frozen II
  • “Stand Up” from Harriet

 

Best Sound Editing:

 

Best Sound Mixing:

 

Best Production Design:

 

Best Cinematography:

 

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:

 

Best Costume Design:

 

Best Film Editing:

 

Best Visual Effects:

 

So there you have it. Lots of nominees and lots of interesting discussion on the way. Let the #2020oscardeathrace begin!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Oscar Shortlist Revealed for Best Documentary Feature

It’s the time of year when the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences releases its Oscar shortlists, and the Best Documentary Feature shortlist is now available with a wide swath of different nonfiction features, led by popular hits Apollo 11, Maiden, and American Factory.

Here are the 15 films that made the cut:

  • Maiden
  • Apollo 11
  • American Factory
  • For Sama
  • The Cave
  • Honeyland
  • One Child Nation
  • The Great Hack
  • The Edge of Democracy
  • The Biggest Little Farm
  • Midnight Family
  • Knock Down the House
  • The Apollo
  • Advocate
  • Aquarela

Now, the race is officially on. Having seen three of the films, I could easily see Apollo 11 or American Factory make it to the nominations, but while The Biggest Little Farm is an important film, I don’t know if it has the ability to cross that nomination barrier and make it to awards night.

Right now, I see the five being Apollo 11, Maiden, American Factory, One Child Nation, and The Great Hack, but I’m also not as versed in documentaries at the Oscars as others. TIme will tell.

So what do you think? Have you seen any of these documentaries and, if so, what films do you see making the cut? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

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