'For Sama' director Waad Al Kateab named one of the Time 100 Most Influential People 2020

The Syrian filmmaker has been included in the pioneers category

Waad Al-Kateab attends the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards Nominee Brunch at the Boa Steakhouse on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in West Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)
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Time magazine has included For Sama director Waad Al Kateab in its Time 100 Most Influential People 2020 list. The annual list charts the most influential pioneers, leaders, titans, and artists of the year, and Al Kateab is listed in the pioneers category.

"Time's list of the 100 Most Influential People in the world is out, and we are so proud to share that [Waad Al Kateab] is a part of this powerful group," wrote the Action For Sama Instagram page to announce the news. "We thank you, always, for raising your voices and supporting the work of #ActionForSama."

British-Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed wrote about Al Kateab for the Time list.

"Our understanding of war is historically mediated through soldiers and war reporters; it's dominated by battle scenes and coloured in khaki. It is often informed by the stories of men, told by men," The Night Of star wrote.

"With her heart-stopping footage from the last hospital in east Aleppo, which dominated news platforms, and her multi-award-winning film For Sama, Waad al-Kateab told us the story of the Syrian war through the eyes of a new mother. She told a story whose heroes are ordinary people risking everything to live free from tyranny: doctors working under fire to save others, teachers educating children in underground classrooms as bombs rain down outside. A story of extreme brutality but also of endless hope," Ahmed continued.

"In a year when film awards were, once again, criticised for their lack of diversity, it was incredible to see Waad, a Muslim refugee woman, walk the red carpet at the Oscars alongside her young daughter, wearing a gown embroidered with a poem in Arabic that read, 'We dared to dream and we will not regret dignity.' I am in awe of her refusal to give up that dream."

Waad al-Kateab poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Waad Al Kateab poses on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California on February 9, 2020. Reuters

For Sama was hailed for its poignant and personal documentation of war, the film won Best Documentary at the 73rd British Academy Film Awards, it was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 92nd Academy Awards in February.

For Sama was filmed inside besieged Aleppo over five years, and gives a first-hand account of war from the perspective of a new mother. It won the Best Documentary Bafta at the British ceremony earlier this year, and the Prix L'Oeil d'Or for Best Documentary at Cannes Film Festival in 2019.

The film, to Al Kateab, is "for all the ­people I lost, for all the people killed in Aleppo, and in all other places after us and before us. For me, it's very important to say: 'This is what happened,'" she told The National last year. "I feel a lot of guilt that I am out and I cannot do anything for these people. So, maybe, with this film, I can go to the people, let them watch it, and maybe something will change."

Also on Time's list is Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE ambassador to the US, who Time correspondent describes as "[wielding] major clout in Washington."