For Sama, the Channel 4 News film about life under siege during the Syrian civil war, has won the Bafta for best documentary.
Collecting her prize at Britain’s most prestigious film awards last night, filmmaker Waad Al-Kateab was joined on stage by her young daughter, the Sama of the title, and husband Hamza.
Al-Kateab revealed in her speech that while under siege in the city of Aleppo in 2016 she had spoken to Channel 4 News about burying her footage so it could be recovered later should she be killed.
The journalist sent dispatches from the last surviving hospital in the city amid regular bombardments from regime and Russian forces. Her videos, broadcast by Channel 4 News, were seen by millions.
She met and married her husband Hamza, a doctor in the hospital, and together they had daughter Sama while still in Syria. They fled to safety in 2016 and claimed asylum in the UK.
Al-Kateab told the audience: “In 2016 we were in Aleppo in the basement of a field hospital, Hamza, me and Sama. And we were hearing the shelling and the bombing all the time around us.
“At one moment… when I was in contact with Channel 4 News, we even thought [about] where we should bury our footage in case we didn’t make it – ‘this needs to be saved’.
“We did the film and I’m so glad and I’m so honoured that I’m standing here…”
For Sama was cut from more than 300 hours of footage taken by Al-Kateab, who also wrote and narrated the film, and co-directed it with Edward Watts (pictured, left).
She went on: “As we are speaking now, the situation in Syria is still so bad.
“There’s bombing and shelling on over 3.5m civilians. These people, they are in Idlib, they should hear your voices now. They should hear that Britain as a great country will not let that happen again.
“I know it’s so hard but this award I would dedicate [to] the great Syrian people who are still suffering today…”