Oualid Mouaness, a quiet force in directing and creative producing in the United States, recently emerged on the scene in the Middle East with one of the most internationally awarded and acclaimed films to come from Lebanon in the last few years. This doesn’t come as a surprise given his immaculate track record of international high profile projects – far too many to count.
His first work in the Middle East went on to become the first Lebanese short film to make an Oscars Shortlist in 2017: ‘The Rifle, The Jackal, The Wolf And the Boy ( الجفت الواوي الذئب والصبي)<https://www.tricyclelogic.com/riflefilm> . He followed this up with a bold, haunting and humanist film that chronicles a day in the life of a school when the Israeli Invasion arrives in Lebanon in the year ‘1982’ (١٩٨٢)<https://www.tricyclelogic.com/1982-the-film-main> ‘1982’ won the Toronto International Film Festival’s NETPAC Award in 2019 for best film from Asia, and went on to win the prestigious FIPRESCI International Critics Prize at El Gouna film festival and continues to collect awards since. he critically acclaimed film, cited as a masterpiece of Lebanese Cinema by some publications in Europe, is due to release theatrically in Europe, Latin America and other countries this coming fall.
Mouaness is responsible for producing seminal, ground breaking and award winning music videos and music films from some of the most prominent artists of today. Lady Gaga’s ‘911’ among his most recent high profile projects, it is a uniquely cinematic and creatively forward Music Video filmed entirely during the pandemic in Los Angeles.
Mouaness worked with Legend David Bowie on the videos “The Stars… are out Tonight” featuring Tilda Swinton, and “The Next Day” that featured Gary Oldman, and Marillon Cotillard. He producer the video record for Annie Lennox’s classic soul album ‘Nostalgia’ in addition to staging and filming a live performance film “A Night Of Nostalgia” for PBS which was nominated for an Emmy in 2015.
On the technological front, Mouaness oversaw the posthumous holographic performance of Michael Jackson’s “Slave to the Rhythm” as performed at the Billboard Music Awards in 2014; a project that was a full year in the making and broke through technologies unseen before.
Among his documentary works is “Max Richter’s Sleep” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020 and was long-listed for the British Independent Film Awards this year. He was also responsible for the hit documentary RIZE that was Oscar Shortlisted in 2006.
Mouaness’ other Music Video works include Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’, which boasts over 3 billion views on Youtube; J-Lo & Pitbull dance hit “On The Dancefloor”; Pink’s “Just Give Me A Reason”, the heart stopping video for Lana Del Rey’s balad “Blue Jeans”, Rihana’s “Sledgehammer” which was made for Universal’s ‘Star Trek’ franchise, in addition to the an emotional video “Take Care” with Drake featuring Rihanna. Other astist he has produced are Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, N.E.R.D, Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Gnarls Barkley, and Keith Urban among others. His work has been nominated for several VMA’s and CMA’s over the years.
Making for an unusually forward hybrid of art and commerce, Mouaness straddles both sides of the Atlantic with his works. After accomplishing seminal works in the United States, he’s looking to bring the creative home, nurture and support fellow artists in the Middle East where he hopes to push the boundaries of both content and quality.
Being very much an actors’ director, as manifested in both in his short film and his feature, he has honed actors both professional and amateur, into delivering arguably their most memorable and charged performances of their careers. In ‘1982’ his ability to sculpt nuanced powerful performances from the likes of Nadine Labaki, Rodrigue Sleiman, Ali Mniemneh, theatre veteran Aliya Khalidi, as well as extract an uncanny level of realism from non professional child actors sets him apart as both a literary force, an actors’ director and a market savvy filmmaker.
Behind Mouaness’ deceivingly quiet temperament is a person who believes in the power of art. When asked what’s next… he shrugs and thinks – the work speaks for it self; he’s not interested in sensationalism as a goal. He is currently developing two feature film scripts, one for Lebanon and another to shoot in the United States, in addition to a series. The one thing that will mark his film and tv works is the subject of ‘love’. He’s interested in making work the moves people without compromise, and present an unmediated mirror to the societies he tackles. His desire is to create works that will resonate with people and keep them thinking long after they have experienced it. It is no surprise that both his short film and 1982 are being integrated into classroom discussions and university discourses in several countries in Europe.
Liberian born to Lebanese parents and raised between Beirut and Monrovia, Mouaness brings understanding and tolerance to his work. He is a Sundance Institute Fellow and currently splits his time between Los Angeles and Beirut. He completed his undergraduate studies in journalism and theatre in Beirut, and holds an MFA in film from the Florida State University college of Motion Picture Arts in film Directing. He’s is a filmmaking mentor, has given masterclasses in various countries, and is an advisor and consultant on several selection committees including IFP and a jury member at Festivals in Mexico and the Middle East.