Mai Masri (1959) is one of the pioneers of the new Palestinian cinema that arose after the first generation of revolutionary filmmakers. In 1983, with her first documentary film Under the Rubble, she became the top Palestinian director, camera operator and editor. She has made a dozen documentaries, strongly marked by exile and her experiences during the Lebanese Civil War. Giving women and children a voice above all, her documentaries draw portraits and are penetrating testimonies of life in Palestinian refugee camps during the war. Many of the images that she filmed form part of an audiovisual imagination that has become part of history.
Her trilogy Children of Fire (1990), Children of Shatila (1998) and Frontiers of Dreams and Tears (2001) brings to the silver screen stories of children and adolescents that are constructed through a strong contrast of imagination and reality that approaches magical realism. The imagination of the young people to whom she gives voice and their dreams of a living Palestine contrast with the harshness of reality and form a deep story about identity, belonging and the construction of the nation of which they dream. These documentaries have won many international awards.
Mai Masri uses film to take control of the dominant story and proposes a subordinate narrative. She is a pioneer who has created a school and has given women filmmakers more exposure and helped them to appropriate this powerful tool of expression.
In 2015, she made and directed her first fiction film, 3,000 Nights. The director was inspired by the testimony and story of several female Palestinian prisoners who gave birth inside Israeli jails.
Mai Masri was born in Amman, studied in the United States and moved to Lebanon in 1976 to devote herself to film. She currently lives in Beirut.