Hisham Bizri

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Hisham Bizri
Hisham Bizri in Venezia.jpg
Born Beirut, Lebanon
Education Boston University, Harvard University, New York University, University of Illinois at Chicago
Occupation Film director, Film producer, Actor, Screenwriter, Curator, Professor
Years active 1987-present
Spouse(s) Michelle Mason (1986-present)
Children 1

Hisham Bizri is a film director, writer, producer, and scholar born in Beirut, Lebanon. He started working in films in the US and Hungary with filmmakers Stan Brakhage, Raoul Ruiz,[1] and Miklós Jancsó. and has directed 25 short films to date. He has taught film at MIT, UC Davis, NYU, Boston University, The School of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), the University of Minnesota, and in Lebanon, Korea, Japan, Ireland, and Jordan (where he also initiated a number of academic film programs). His students have gone on to study film at NYU, USC, AFI, UCLA, La Fémis (Paris) and FAMU (Prague).[2] Most recently, he has served as Professor of Filmmaking and Screenwriting in the Literary Arts Department at Brown University. In 2015, in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, Bizri began partnering with Jordan's Royal Film Commission to oversee production of documentaries made by Arab filmmakers chronicling life in the Zaatari refugee camp and in 2016 presented film programs to Syrian refugee children in Amman.

Early life[edit]

Bizri hails from a politically and financially prominent Levantine Arab clan—the El-Bizri—who ultimately trace their lineage to the Imam al-Husayn bin 'Ali. The family has included public servants, politicians, and merchants since Ottoman times, with its political influence originally centered in Sidon and Damascus.

The youngest of seven children of Lebanese parents, Bizri was raised in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War and 1982 Israeli Siege of Beirut. Bizri’s mother often would send him to the movie theater as an escape. The movie houses of Beirut introduced Bizri to classic Hollywood films by D.W. Griffith, John Ford, Howard Hawks, George Cukor, and Chaplin; the European films of Ingmar Bergman, F. W. Murnau, and Roberto Rossellini; and many avant garde works, as well.

Originally a student of physics and mathematics at American University in Beirut (AUB), Bizri found himself increasingly drawn to a career in film, eventually establishing a film club at AUB. Eager to obtain film training, the 19-year-old Bizri moved to Boston to study film at Boston University, from which he received his undergraduate degree, and completed post-graduate work at Harvard's Carpenter Center for the Arts and NYU's Tisch School before receiving his MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Film career[edit]

Bizri's work has been shown in international venues including Sundance,[3] Cannes, Berlin, Oberhausen (multiple times), Moscow, and Abu Dhabi film festivals as well as the Louvre, Institut du Monde Arabe, Cinémathèque Française, Centre Pompidou, MoMa, and Anthology Film Archives (NY). He is recipient of awards from the McKnight, LEF, Jerome, and Rockefeller Foundations, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and American Academy in Rome, which awarded him the "Rome Prize" (FAAR 2009).[4]

In 2005, Bizri co-founded The Arab Institute of Film (Amman, Jordan) with the Syrian filmmaker Omar Amiralay and Danish producer Jakob Høgel, with support from the Danish government, International Media Support (Denmark), and the Ford Foundation. He served as Producer at Future TV (Lebanon), Creative Director of Orbit Communications Company (Rome/Dubai/Beirut/Cairo), and President & Creative Director of Levantine Films (NYC).

Bizri is now working on several short films and a feature. He cites Henry James as a key figure in shaping some of his views on art and literature: “It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance… giving fresh meaning to contemporary life.”

On his website, Bizri lists the films he appreciates, including: "Arabic Series" (Stan Brakhage, 1981), "Red River" (Howard Hawks, 1946), "The Sun Shines Bright" (John Ford, 1953), "Au Hasard, Balthazar" (Robert Bresson, 1966), "Gertrud" (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1964), "The 47 Ronin" (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1942), "The Earrings of Madame de..." (Max Ophuls, 1953), "India: Matri Bhumi" (Roberto Rossellini, 1959), The Tarnished Angels (Douglas Sirk, 1957), and "The Masseurs and a Woman" (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1938), as well as the films of D. W. Griffith and Gregory Markopoulos.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Bizri met his wife, a philosopher, in 1986 and they married in 1993. The couple resides in Providence, RI with their daughter.



Year Title Length Format Notes
1989 The Dream 7 minutes Super-8
1989 The Sun 5 minutes Super-8
1990 The Third of May 9 minutes 16mm film
1990 The Dream of a Ridiculous Man 22 minutes 16mm film
1991 The Leaves of a Cypress 15 minutes Betacam SP
1991 Vertov's Valentine 12 minutes Betacam SP
1992 Message from a Dead Man 20 minutes 16mm film
1997 Mitologies Stereoscopic Cinema
1997 Las Meninas Stereoscopic Cinema
2002 City of Brass 24 minutes Betacam
2002 La Rencontre 28 minutes DV Based on the short story "Emma Zunz" by Jorge Luis Borges.
2002 Chabrol á Biarritz 23 minutes DV Interview with Claude Chabrol
2005 Vertices: Beirut.Dublin.Seoul 32 minutes DV A film for three screens.
2005 Asmahan 21 minutes 35mm film
2008 Song for the Deaf Ear 18 minutes 16mm film/High-definition video Silent but for the last minute
  • Festival Sercine, Aracaju (Sergipe), Brazil
2010 A Film 8.32 minutes 16mm film/High-definition video
  • Minneapolis-Saint Paul Film Festival
  • Pesaro Film Festival 2012
2012 Sirocco 18 minutes 35mm film
2016 "Beneath the wide wide Heaven" 15 minutes 35mm film

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Best Editing Award for "Beneath the wide, wide, Heaven," RAIIFA International Film Festival (2016)
  • Salomon Faculty Research Award, Brown University (2015)
  • Script Station, Berlinale Talent Campus, Berlin International Film Festival (2011)
  • American Academy in Rome "Rome Prize" (2008)
  • McKnight Media Artist Award (2008)
  • Guggenheim Fellowship (2007)
  • Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellowship (2005)


  1. ^ Ruiz, Raoul (1996-06-07), The Golden Boat, retrieved 2016-02-08 
  2. ^ Hisham Bizri's website Retrieved 4 October 2015
  3. ^ "New Frontier Shorts Q & A @ 2013 Sundance Film Festival" YouTube Published on 10 February 2013, Retrieved 4 October 2015
  4. ^ Hisham Bizri's website Retrieved 4 October 2015
  5. ^ Hisham Bizri's website "Favorites" Retrieved 4 October 2015

External links[edit]