MOUNA MOUNAYER I WRITER I DIRECTOR I PRODUCER I WIFE and not necessarily in that order…

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4 Oct 2013


It was a great opening night for the Beirut International Film Festival showing Alphonso Cuaron’s Gravity. I was very pleased to see a great turn out with a lot of members of our industry and of all generations. The press was there in force too giving young Lebanese film makers a platform which they don’t normally have to express themselves.



31 Dec 2012 2 Comments

Looking up at the stars, from my balcony overlooking a wintry Mediterranean sea, my heart smiles to see Orion looking down on me.  The great Greek hunter, father of the biblical Nephilim, ancient Egyptian constellation of rebirth and the afterlife has been my winter companion these past twenty years.  It seems fitting that the constellation is shining brightly in the sky on this last day of a defining year, a giant frozen Nimrod forever chasing the seven sisters across the dark void.  I have often asked myself why this particular constellation calls to my senses and my intellect?

At the end of this year and end of this age, it occurs to me that the symbols of Orion are very relevant in my life as it has played out in 2012.  The first part of the year I spent inventing an afterlife for myself.  The life I wish to live after the end of this life and just like the Mayans meant by the end of an age, so I mean by the end of an era and the beginning of a new one, built on the ashes of my life experience.  If anything, 2012 showed me that it is time to move into a new phase of being, working, living.  But how does a middle-aged woman go about re-inventing her life?

I find that I, like most people, hold on to things tightly, things like experience, like success, like pain, like fear.  So for a start, I had to let go and hope the fall did not break my neck.  Then I had to decide on my path and no matter how murky, set about finding people to help me clear it.  This I did with the aid of partners, friends and colleagues.  I travelled and I met new people with exciting new ideas for an old analoguer like me, ideas which will allow me to re-invent myself in a brave new digital age.  I know I am being deliberately vague but I can’t reveal my secrets just yet, though I can mysteriously say that the American bible belt is in my future and you can make of that what you will.

You are probably asking yourselves why re-invent your life?  Surely the status-quo we all work so hard towards should not be messed with but I say to you that just when you want to sit and stretch on your laurels life has a way to shake things up making you move on to new and frightening places, with or without your permission.    So like Orion, I spent six months hunting in the void and found the beginnings of a re-birth and vision which will shape my future and hopefully put food on the table at the same time.

In the last part of the year, I directed a biography documentary series on the life of one of Lebanon’s most famous war lords.  Like the Nephilim this man was viewed by some as a god-like giant and by others as a harbinger of death and destruction.  I feel oddly close to this man whose life was a tightrope walk between bloodshed and demise, living in a period of this country’s history which I did not experience first-hand.  Working on the series it occurred to me that he, like Orion, was hunting for a solution to the many problems swamping his people, his country and his identity.  I wonder sometimes if he is standing behind me while I edit his life into viewable chunks.  His charismatic face calling out to me from the afterlife about his longings and his regret.  Watching him in jerky black and white images or Polaroid coloured video I wonder what he would make of this digital age of ours and what he would make of me re-interpreting his life?  I can see him waggling his finger and shaking his head in sorrow because here, in Lebanon, seemingly nothing changes, only time passes.  But that sentiment is not absolute, things do change and in the retelling of a life cut short by assassination my protagonist is now like Orion stuck as a giant in the void of this country’s history.  And it is so easy to get stuck in the quagmire that is the Middle East.  Its problems stifling.  Its vision short.  Yet for all that my rebirth will be from here because no other place can invent and re-invent a stubborn hunter like Nimrod, a phalli-centric god like Osiris, a skirt chaser like Orion and little old me.

I wish you all a lovely happy New Year.



27 Jul 2011 1 Comment

Mouna Mounayer, Fouad Sleiman, Mohab Shaneh Saz and the Bedouins of Wadi Rum filming the documentary Arab; A lost identity

On my very second outing as a fully fledged documentary director I was let loose on an unsuspecting Arab world.  First port of call Wadi Rum.  What most of you don’t know is that I grew up in a house in London where the film director David Lean had lunch every Sunday.  Alas not with me and my family but with the family who owned the house before us.  The fact that the maestro sat in the same dining room as I did gave me no small amount of frissons as I was growing up – yeah I know I was a strange child.  So imagine my delight and my ambition when I found myself in the same place, with a camera and a crew. A place that my old chum David had (according to film lore) painted gold because it didn’t look yellow enough for him on-screen.


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