Private Project

Winter Ballad (Trailer)

Winter Ballad is the story of a woman who lives with difficulty in a world at war

  • May Kassem
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  • Runtime:
    2 minutes 4 seconds
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Director Biography - May Kassem

Directors's Biography:
Born in Beirut in 1975, May Kassem is a filmmaker, screenwriter, radio producer, music composer and teacher, who has made 16mm films, videos, documentaries, and animated films.
She graduated from Brown University’s Modern Culture and Media Department with a B.A. in Art Semiotics. In 1998, she completed an intensive course in Screenwriting through the FEMIS in Lebanon “PROFFIL” (Programme de Formation à la Fiction Longue) under the direction of FEMIS Screenwriting Department Director, Marie-Geneviève Ripeau – and has been teaching Screenwriting eversince, in Lebanon, at New York's School of Visual Arts, and currently in various cultural centers in Lebanon – or as a script-doctor.
She got her Masters degree in Film: Directing from USJ’s IESAV faculty.
Her early work focused on the impact of art on society/politics: “Pre-revolutionary art is the art of the revolution” (52min. documentary) explored art in public spaces vs. in museums/de-contextualized art, whereas “Organized Freedom is Compulsory” (10min, 16mm) dealt with the issue of time and finances as far as working class artists are concerned – within the capitalist system and particularly the protestant work-ethic.
Working around the theme of migrant workers, she made a short documentary “Qui ecrira l'histoire” about the struggle of undocumented immigrants in Paris in 1996 as well as a docu-fiction as Beirut was being reconstructed in 1998, with Syrian migrant construction workers “Joker” (1998) which has screened in London, Ibiza, Berlin, Beirut, and New York.
She made a couple of video portraits of her colleagues at Radio Liban 96.2FM, of which “96.2.1” was screened at the Lebanese Film Festival 2014, and “96.2.2” screened at VideoWorks 2015 and in Scotland. These portraits seek to maintain the allure and anonymity of radio by filming fragments, hands in contact with the mixer, mouths against the microphone, feet moving to the music, as well as reflections on glass surfaces of the presenters, while capturing the spirit of their shows and their personalities.
In 2016,she made a short video about the social and political struggle in Beirut, which was sparked by the garbage crisis “Reverse-Shot: Diary of a Struggle” which screened at the Lebanese Film Festival, the Avant-Edge Film Festival in Chicago, the 10th International Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival, was part of the official selection of the The TMC London Film Fest, and Roma Cine Doc.
Also in 2016, she completed a feature documentary based on the life of actress and singer Nourhane who was active in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, who had suddenly quit the stage, and who is also her grandmother .
“Nourhane, a child's dream” has won the 1st Cinema prize at Chouftouhonna's Festival of Feminist Art in Tunis (2016), as well as Best Documentary at the Phenicien Film Festival in Lyon (2017), Best Documentary at the Monthly Film Festival (Copenhagen), and Best Documentary at the Martinique Film Festival. It has also screened at the Cairo Women's Film Festival in 2017,was a semi-finalist at Los Angeles CineFest, and was part of the official selection of, the TrueDoc Documentary Film Fest, the Sydney World Film Festival, and the Hong Kong ArtHouse Film Festival. In June 2019, the independent documentary was commercially released at Metropolis Empire Sofil Cinema in Beirut and met with great public success and acclaim from the press.
In April of 2017, May finished “Free Waves”, a feature documentary around the struggle for the preservation of the public beach in Beirut, the end of radio transmission through electromagnetic waves, and the earth's fragile place in the cosmos – which is starting its festival tour.
In the Spring of 2017, she was granted an artist residency through the French Institute at the Cité Internationale des Arts de Paris, for a very personal film project around memory, her personal video, audio and photo archive, the cities of Beirut and Paris,& political and social struggle over time. Two film projects were born out of this residency, a totally independent fiction “Winter Ballad” (1h42m) in which she also acts, and a documentary (a trilogy on cities: Paris, Beirut, New York) on which she is currently working: writing, shooting, editing.
May presents two music programs on 96.2 FM Radio Liban « Poivre Noir, Piment Rouge » (world music) as well as « Champ Sonore » (electronic, contemporary music, and sound-scapes).
May lives in Beirut. For the time being.

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Winter Ballad is the story of a woman who lives with difficulty in a world at war