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Mai Masri: ‘Films are part of safeguarding memory’

Mai Masri was one of the first Palestinian filmmakers to document life in Palestine under Israeli occupation and the civil war in Lebanon

 

Video and editing by Jehan Alfarra, interview by Amelia Smith

Mai Masri was one of the first Palestinian filmmakers to document life in Palestine under Israeli occupation and the civil war in Lebanon. Masri was raised in Beirut and was just 17 when the conflict broke out.

A retrospective of her career was recently showcased as part of the Festival Ciné-Palestine in Paris, France, one of a growing number of Palestinian film festivals taking place across the world.

“Of all the Arab cinema, [Palestine] is the only cinema, or the only country, that has consistent festivals everywhere in the world,” says Masri whose work has premiered in festivals in Toronto, London and Busan. Her debut feature film “3000 nights” won over 24 awards.

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Her acclaimed trilogy “Children of Fire”, “Children of Shatila”, and “Frontiers of Dreams and Fears” focuses on the life of young Palestinian refugees.

The first documents life in Nablus during the first intifada and the second takes the viewer inside the Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon. The third follows the friendship between two young refugees, one in Lebanon and one in Palestine, who meet at the border after South Lebanon is liberated after 22 years of occupation.

“It echoes what’s going on in Gaza now because there’s a huge march of return as well, so that concept of children and refugees and the young generation and having not forgotten Palestine is very powerful,” says Masri.

“They remain as part of the memory, safeguarding memory. and writing history that’s not written.”

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The Palestinian History Tapestry: Exhibition and Panel Discussion