Sandford St Martin events

As advocates for excellence in broadcasting that explores belief, ethics or morality the Sandford St Martin Trust is committed to making the case for creative, thoughtful and entertaining programmes that further our understanding of how religion – whether you’re a believer or not – affects the world around us.

Since 2014 this has seen the Trust form new partnerships with organisations like the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Media Society, the Sheffield Doc/Fest and the Insight Film Festival.  Our newest initiatives are the Sandford St Martin Media Salons, run in partnership with the House of St Barnabas in Soho and supported by Allchurches Trust, these events are aimed at sparking conversations between media experts, practitioners and audiences about some of the biggest issues in broadcasting, journalism and the reporting of religion today.

For more information about our work or to discuss potential partnerships, please contact

Sandford St Martin Media Salon – July 8 2020 18.30-19.30 BST

FOR SAMA: Journalism Under Siege

Watch our conversation with Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts, directors of FOR SAMA, recorded on 8 July 2020.

The Trust’s first ever online Media Salon focussed on the making of the multi-award winning feature documentary For Sama, the international response and what it means for the future of reporting from Syria and other conflict zones and our understanding of war. 

Assembled from hundreds of hours of on-the-ground footage al-Kateab filmed during five years of the conflict in Aleppo,  FOR SAMA  is much more than just a news documentary. Framed as a love-letter from a young mother to her baby daughter, audiences bear witness to what for al-Kateab, her husband a doctor, their colleagues and neighbours is a deeply personal war. They have seen their homes, hospitals and city razed and their neighbours – including many children – killed. 

 Our guests: 

Waad al Kateab: Award-winning Syrian journalist, filmmaker, mother and activist. In 2017 her work with Channel 4 News’ foreign team – including footage she shot of a baby being born in the aftermath of a barrel bomb attack in Aleppo won an Emmy. The multi award-winning film FOR SAMA was made from more of her material, featuring both unprecedented documentation of the turmoil in the city’s final hospital, as well as the human stories of those who remained in Aleppo during the siege. Al-Kateab’s reports have had around half a billion views online – believed to be the most watched reports of any in the conflict.

Edward Watts: Edward Watts is an Oscar-nominated, BAFTA and Emmy award-winning filmmaker who has directed twenty-five narrative and documentary films, telling true stories and providing insight into the human side of some of the biggest news stories of our times. In addition to co-directing FOR SAMA – for which he has won a Best Director award along side Waad al-Kateab, the L’Oeil d’Or for the Best Documentary at the Cannes Film Festival and a Sandford St Martin Award among many others – Edward wrote and directed OKSIJAN about a 7 year old Afghan boy’s journey to the UK in the back of a refrigerated lorry, and ESCAPE FROM ISIS which uncovered the brutal regime suffered by millions of women living under Isis. 

Watch a trailer of FOR SAMA here.

You can watch the full documentary   here. 

To learn more about the campaign to end the targeting of healthcare facilities in Syria visit Action for Sama :  , download this action plan from Waad, and engage with  @actionforsama or #actionforsama  on social media. 

With thanks to Allchurches Trust, whose funding has made these media salons possible.

IS TRUTH DEAD? Sandford St Martin/House of St Barnabas Media Salon

Who believes in truth in a post-truth world?  In the wake of the general election campaign where issues of trust have dominated the agenda, when a US President whose preferred mode of communication is Twitter faces impeachment and in the face of the rising influence of social and new media, do journalists and broadcasters need to change their tactics when it comes to reporting and representation?  And what role is there for other institutions or concerned citizens?

Is Truth Dead? featured the writer and broadcaster Trevor Phillips, LBC’s Political Editor Theo Usherwood, the Sunday Times journalist Rosamund Unwin, and William Moy Director of Full Fact an independent fact checking charity. It was the first in a new series of events held in partnership with the House of St Barnabas in Soho.

Edinburgh TV festival

Billed by the Edinburgh  TV Festival organisers as one of the Festival’s hottest debates, ‘God: TV’s Holy Grail?’ – sponsored by the Sandford St Martin Trust –  delivered exactly that and more.

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Media Society debate

Co-produced by the Sandford St Martin Trust, this sold-out debate was described by the Guardian’s Roy Greenslade as “one of the most illuminating Media Society events I’ve ever attended”.

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Sheffield Doc/Fest

“Religious Docs: Who Needs Them?” was produced for Sheffield’s 2015 International Documentary Festival and brought together commissioners and programme-makers from across the industry to discuss the creative and commercial opportunities offered by religious documentaries.

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Church and Media Conference

“More TV Vicar?”, produced for the 2015 Church & Media Conference, explored television depictions of clergy and asked what these versions say about public attitudes to religion and how they reflect challenges facing the church.

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