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C4, PBS doc For Sama takes home a Bafta

Channel 4 News’ Syrian war doc For Sama

A feature documentary commissioned by Channel 4 in the UK and US broadcaster PBS was among the Bafta winners in London last night.

Best Documentary went to For Sama, from filmmakers Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts and produced by Channel 4 News and ITN Productions.

The doc was filmed between 2011 and 2016 and follows one woman’s journey through love, motherhood, war and survival over five years in Aleppo during the brutal Syrian war.

Waad documented the conflict in Aleppo for C4 News in January 2016 while living in a makeshift hospital run by her husband. She left the city in December of that year, with her footage largely intact.

First World War epic 1917 swept the board at last night’s ceremony, taking home awards in seven categories, including Best Film, Outstanding British Film, Best Cinematography and Best Director, for Sam Mendes.

Meanwhile, although Netflix’s The Irishman went home empty handed, the global streamer did pick up the award for animated film for Klaus, which was produced by SPA Studios in Spain.

In addition, Laura Dern was victorious in the Best Supporting Actress category for her performance in Netflix film Marriage Story.

Elsewhere, Michael Ward, who starred in the streamer’s reboot of Top Boy as well as Blue Story, the feature adaptation of Rapman’s YouTube series, won the EE Rising Star award.

Kathleen Kennedy, dubbed Hollywood’s most powerful woman and president of Lucasfilm, was the recipient of the Bafta Fellowship award while actor and director Andy Serkis was recognised for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema.

The lack of diversity among the nominees in the awards’ main categories was referenced numerous times during the evening.

Bafta president Prince William said it “simply cannot be right in this day and age” to have all-white shortlists, as was the case in categories including Best Actor and Actress at this year’s awards.

Following the backlash to the main award categories’ nominees this year, Bafta said there will be a review of the voting process for the event.

Joaquin Phoenix, who picked up the award for BestActor for his performance in Joker, also called out “systemic racism” within the movie industry during his speech.

“We send a very clear message to people of colour that you’re not welcome here. I don’t think anybody wants a handout or preferential treatment. People just want to be acknowledged and appreciated and respected for their work. I’m ashamed to say that I’m part of the problem, because I’ve not ensured that the sets I’ve worked on are inclusive,” he told the audience.

“We have to do the hard work to truly understand systemic racism. It is the obligation of the people who have created and benefit from the system of oppression to be the ones to dismantle it. So that’s on us.”

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