Review: For Sama is a gripping tale of war told by those it affects personally

With the Oscars a week away Kiwi audiences have plenty of chances to sample the nominees in cinemas right now.

One of those is up for Best Documentary and it is called For Sama.

This film has already been hailed the best documentary at Cannes and it made history as the most-nominated feature documentary at this weekend's BAFTAs.

Syrian student Waad Al-Kateab was just 18 when she started filming the shells raining down on her home city of Aleppo.  She didn't stop filming for five years.

Living in one of the last remaining hospitals left standing, her husband Hamza is doing everything he can to save anyone he can. And what she bears witness to, we bear witness to. 

When she gives birth to their daughter Sama, the personal stakes are instantly so much higher as the journey she now documents isn't just for her own freedom.   

You don't need me to tell you this is an incredibly difficult film to watch. 

This is fact, not fiction; this is the cost of war, and the even greater cost of freedom.

And it's so very important that we take every opportunity we get to open the window into the world beyond our own lives to see stories like this one.  

Five stars.