Maha Haj

Maha Haj (Arabic: مها حاج; born in 1970; Nazareth) is a Palestinian filmmaker. Haj was born in Nazareth. She was educated in the Baptist Christian school in Nazareth, though both her parents were communist activists. Under her father's influence she began studying pharmacy science, but after year switched to literature, and completed her BA in English and Arabic literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and her MA in language and literature at Haifa University. She began working as a teacher, but was more interested in her art and writing, which she practiced in her free time. She began her cinematic career working as an set designer, script doctor, and art director on such films as Elia Suleiman's The Time That Remains (2009), Ziad Doueiri's The Attack (2012); followed by Adi Adouan's Arabani (2014) and Rafael Najari's Over the HIlltop (2014). In 2009, she wrote and directed the short film Burtuqal, which was released to critical acclaim, and was screened at many international film festivals, and then the documentary film Within These Walls (2010). She achieved international recognition in 2016 with her film Personal Affairs, which had its international premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, in the Un Certain Regard section. She both wrote and directed the film, which won Best Feature Film at the Haifa International Film Festival. In their reasoning, the judges wrote: "It is a creation that is entirely love of humankind, fluent and funny, captivating and kindhearted, a contemporary human mosaic, both local and universal." Haj has been outspoken about the difficulties she has faced getting backing for films as a Palestinian. Former culture minister Limor Livnat created regulations according to which films receiving public funds must be presented as strictly Israeli, not as Palestinian-Israeli, causing filmmakers like Haj, who is both Palestinian and an Israeli citizen, politically and ethically.
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    Place of birth
    Nazareth, Israel
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