Waad al-Kateab received the P&V Foundation's 2020 Citizenship Award
On Wednesday 2 December 2020, the P&V Foundation gave out its 16th Citizenship to Waad el-Kateab
The Citizenship Award is an annual award conferred to a person, initiative or organisation, of Belgian or international origin, whose activity has shown exemplary commitment to promoting an open, democratic, tolerant society.
Waad al-Kateab, an activist journalist
Born in 1991 in Syria, Waad al-Kateab is a journalist, filmmaker and activist. Her last name is a pseudonym invented to protect her family when she started filming the war in 2011. In 2009, she moved to Aleppo to study economics at Aleppo University, but her studies were interrupted by the revolution and the war which followed. She has reported on the war for Channel 4 News for 5 years. She won an international Emmy Award for her reports “Inside Aleppo”.
Since 2016 she has been living and working in Great Britain where she fled with her family. She made her film debut in "For Sama" with Edward Watts. It won the "Golden Eye Award" for best documentary at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019, it is also the most nominated documentary in the history of the British Academy Film Awards. On November 23, 2020 she won an Emmy Award for best documentary.
For Sama: Testifying at the risk of your life
“For Sama” is an intimate and epic journey into the female experience of war. As a love letter from a young mother to her daughter, the film tells the story of Waad al-Kateab’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth to Sama. Her camera captures incredible stories of loss, laughter and survival as Waad wrestles with an impossible choice – whether or not to flee the city to protect her daughter’s life, when leaving means abandoning the struggle for freedom for which she has already sacrificed so much. The film is the first feature documentary by Emmy award-winning filmmakers, Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts.
Promoting engagement and active citizenship
The 2020 Citizenship Award is awarded to Waad al-Kateab for her putting into perspective of risk-taking in the name of active and activist citizenship. Olivier Servais and Jessy Siongers, co-presidents of the P&V Foundation: "The Award comes on the eve of a sad anniversary - it's been 10 years since Syria has been mired in a never-ending conflict. Waad al-Kateab has challenged millions of people through her testimony by bringing together the intimate and the universal, and she has shown us what true citizenship means.”
The Foundation wishes to emphasise all forms of citizen participation and Waad al-Kateab's testimony is part of this spectrum. Al-Kateab hopes that her work can be a tool for change and that it will inspire people to take action. When asked what she wants, Waad answered: ‘I don't want your tears - I want mobilisation’.
©ABD ALKHADER HABAK
Her action: A personal and universal struggle
Waad Al-Kateab continues her fight through the "@ActionForSama #stopbombinghospitals" campaign highlighting the heroism of the doctors and nurses who continue their work despite the bombings. Waad al-Kateab encourages us to nurture and conduct humane debates on the role, responsibilities and impact of war on the lives of thousands of men and women.
Annemie Schaus (rector of ULB) and Lynn Tytgat (WeKonekt, VUB), two members of the Citizenship Award jury, explain: “The work of Waad al-Kateab is a call for an open, tolerant and committed society. The filmmaker works passionately in favour of human rights, the right to health care, as well as the staff of nurses and doctors who play a crucial role around the world on a daily basis. In the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, this theme is and will remain relevant. Waad al-Kateab inspires young and old, nationally and internationally, and encourages personal and societal reflection and action. "
The Prize will be awarded on May 3 during the Difference Day event which will take place in Bozar in the presence of many personalities including Caroline Pauwels, rector of the VUB: "I am honored that the P&V Foundation's Citizenship Prize awarded to Waad al-Kateab be awarded on Difference Day. It embodies the values and attitude that this day represents: freedom of expression and respect for the opinions of others. "
The Foundation will present the winner with a statue of the committed artist Philip Aguirre y Otegui.
Le Soir, Gaëlle Moury, "Comprendre pourquoi les Syriens sont devenus des réfugiés " 02/12/2020, p. 14
Knack, Han Renard, "We zouden samen leven en samen sterven " 02/12/2020p.76
RTL info, "Une journaliste syrienne récompensée du Prix de la citoyenneté", 02/12/2020
Mo*, Michiel Loveniers "Syrische journaliste, filmmaakster en activiste wint de Burgerschapsprijs 2020: ‘Een heel speciale prijs" - 02/12/2020
La Libre, "Une journaliste syrienne récompensée du Prix de la citoyenneté", 02/12/2020
BX1, "Une journaliste récompensée du Prix de la citoyenneté", 02/12/2020
DH, "Une journaliste récompensée du Prix de la citoyenneté", 02/12/2020