Hear Mai Masri, one of Palestine’s most distinguished filmmakers, discuss her films with writer and journalist Victoria Brittain.
Having won dozens of awards in film festivals across the world for her many unusual documentaries and her 2015 feature film 3,000 Nights, Mai Masri is one of Palestine’s most distinguished filmmakers.
Bertha DocHouse and the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image co-present Frontiers of Dreams and Fears (2001) which won 14 international awards in Europe, Asia and Middle East, and is an ideal introduction to her beautiful, meticulous works of art.
This documentary was shot over nine months and weaves together momentous events in the lives of two groups of Palestinian children – one in Beirut’s Shatila camp in Beirut and the other a camp near Bethlehem in the West Bank. Mai had been spending time with both groups for years, planning the third film in her trilogy of children and war.
The centrepiece of Frontiers of Dreams and Fears is the shock withdrawal of the Israeli army over the Lebanese border in 2000 after its 22 year occupation of South Lebanon. Thousands of Palestinians converged on the border from both sides during this unique one week window of opportunity. Mai and her friends managed the extraordinary logistical feat of getting a busload of children from both sides to the previously forbidden border area to meet each other through the barbed wire.
The film captures the children’s exuberance and excitement, as they live out “the best day of our life”. Intimate, tender scenes give a rare insight into these Palestinian teenagers’ imagination, and the pain and loss felt by older generations. The film also illuminates the power of the close extended family life which is the bedrock of the confident identities of these remarkable children.
The complex layers of Mai’s story telling makes her documentaries extremely original, playing out like feature films. Frontiers of Dreams and Fears is an example of Mai as a true auteur who has evolved her own signature style.This screening will be followed by a presentation by Victoria Brittain, who has written a book on Masri’s films, and then a discussion between Masri, Brittain and Birkbeck’s Marina Warner.