Mamoun Hassan lectures at the NFTVS

Mamoun at the National Film and Television School. Photograph: Lee Evans

Mamoun Hassan is a screenwriter, producer, director, editor and critic as well as an international film teacher. He has written, directed and edited a number of award-winning films in the course of his career while holding  a number of influential positions in British film production organisations.

Mamoun’s unique gift is his ability to transfer his understanding of cinema as an international medium using practical analysis of the work of the world’s greatest directors. He is guest lecturer of choice at several of the world’s top national and international film schools.

No Surrender posterBased in the UK, Mamoun has a string of directing, producing, editing and screen-writing credits on films made in Britain and Latin America. He produced the prize-winning feature film, No Surrender, and co-produced  Machuca, Chile’s most successful film, which won numerous Latin American and European awards. He also wrote the screenplay of La Buena Vida, winner of a Spanish Goya and the premier prize at Huelva in 2008. has also been a regular writer in the British press.

BabylonAs a fiercely independent freelance professional with a global outlook, Mamoun has always stood apart from show business limelight in the UK. As a result, he has often been better recognised abroad than at home:  the French cinema dictionary, the Larousse Dictionnaire du Cinémahas listed his name alongside those of Alexander Korda,  René Clair, Cavalcanti, Truffaut, Polanski, Losey and Kubrick as great ‘non-English’ contributors to the world of British film.


Winstanley posterFrom 1971 to 1974,  as Head of Production at the British Film Institute , he led and implemented a policy of feature film-making with the backing of Sir Michael Balcon and Sir Dennis Forman. During his two and a half years at the BFI he backed some of Britain’s most distinctive and original films, including Bill Douglas’s Childhood TrilogyKevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo’s Winstanley, Peter Smith’s A Private EnterpriseDavid Gladwell’s Requiem for a VillageHorace Ove’s Pressure, Chuck Despins’ musical, Moon Over the Alley, and Terence Davies’s first film, Children.

In 1970, Mamoun was commissioned by Hollywood legend Stanley Donen to adapt a novel, Apollo’s Summer Look by Kathleen Conlon, with a view to Mamoun directing it. He worked on the screenplay with colleague David Ash. The project was financed by National General, a newcomer to Hollywood, referred to at the time as the seventh Major. Sadly National General withdrew from Movie Production when the script, About Rose, was in early stages of pre-production.

There had been some development work in Hollywood prior to Mamoun’s involvement on the project and costs were too high for a British company to take over.

In 1974 Mamoun was appointed Head of Film Branch for a United Nations Agency in Beirut. The Lebanese civil war started soon after his arrival and over the following disturbed 18 months he directed and edited a documentary, Some of the Palestinians, which was completed in 1976. The film was invited to  the London Film Festival and the Teheran Film Festival. A copy is held by UK’s National Film Archive.

On returning to the UK in 1976, Mamoun moved into film education and was head of directing for two years at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.

Gregory's Girl posterIn 1979,  Mamoun took another game-changing role in the UK film funding scene when he took over the top post at the National Film Finance Corporation from Sir John Terry. During his tenure as the managing director of the UK’s government arm for investing in feature production and development he championed the films of new as well as established directors, including Lindsay Anderson’s Britannia HospitalBritannia Hospital posterBill Forsyth’s Gregory’s Girl, Bill Douglas’s Comrades, Franco Rosso and Martin Stellman’s Babylon, Mike Newell’s Dance with a Stranger, Marek Kanievska’s Another Country, James Ivory’s A Room with a View and Jimmy Murakami’s animation, When the Wind Blows.

Mamoun left the NFFC in 1984 prior to its dissolution by the Conservative government in 1985. He did not return to public life in the UK preferring to concentrate on production.

In 1984 he produced Alan Bleasdale’s feature film set in Liverpool, directed by Peter Smith;  No Surrender.

Mamoun Hassan and Terrance Davies in preparation for filming Movie Masterclass 1990

Mamoun Hassan and Terrence Davies in preparation for filming Movie Masterclass 1990

In 1988 Mamoun devised the Movie Masterclass series for television, in collaboration with leading film makers of the period, including Lindsay Anderson, Terence Davies, Bill Forsyth and Jack Gold. This innovative and influential series was shown on Channel 4.
Kurosawa Productions acquired the rights for a well received transmission on NHK, the BBC equivalent in Japan.
Satyajit Ray responded  to the masterclass on the World of Apu, saying: “…It was a lesson for me too.” When Mamoun visited Colkata after Ray’s death he discovered that Ray had sent copies of the program to his friends and colleagues.

During the 1990’s Mamoun returned to the  National Film and Television School, as a governor and to take responsibility for the editing department (he had also been Head of Producing for a short period).  Between 1991 and 1993 he was senior UNESCO consultant for the UNESCO-Zimbabwe Film Training Project in Harare which aimed to establish film training for southern Africa during the apartheid era. In 1997 he became Head and Dean of editing  at the International Film School in Cuba (eictv) – a position he retained for seven years.

Machuca posterWhile working in Cuba, Mamoun became interested in the work of the leading Chilean director Andres Wood. This led to one of the most fruitful artistic collaborations in his career so far: with Andres he co-wrote and produced two acclaimed Latin American films.  Machuca (2005) is Chile’s most successful film to date – winner of numerous Latin American and European awards – and  La Buena Vida (2007), winner of a Spanish Goya and the premier prize at Huelva in 2008.

 My Brother the Devil - PosterMost recently in 2012,  Mamoun acted as consultant editor on the British Feature, My Brother the Devil directed by Sally Hossaini.

Mamoun is energetically pursuing production opportunities with new film makers, while his expertise and insight continues to be in demand for student film assessments, lectures, film competition juries and masterclasses worldwide.

More to come….

Short excerpt from a Masterclass on Bill Douglas‘s My Childhood, filmed in 2010
at the National Film Theatre, London.
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