Donia Mili

Calling forth the Life Force in You....KaKaram!

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About Me:

My Life Story in Short:

Born in Paris, I spent my childhood moving among three continents, following my parents through the vagaries of their careers. Besides the repetitive physical dislocation, there was the issue of adapting to the very different cultural and religious points-of-view of my parents, which was a challenge in its own right. As difficult as all of this was at times, I found that the travels and nomadic life gave me a more varied perspective on life, bon gré mal gré.

When I was sixteen years old, I auditioned for the University of Ottawa’s student television. I got the gig and I started hosting the weekly French student show a month later. I liked TV immediately, instinctively. I felt very comfortable in front of a camera and in studio, even more so when I got to produce reports or short stories.

Threads, story threads, fascinate me; the different directions that a story can take depending on how it is presented and edited intrigue and excite me. Although I made foolish mistakes back then in Canada, shifting from egocentrism to sensationalism, my passion to tell a story using a multimedia approach was growing. I don’t know when the “click” happened, but I realized that the message, more than the cinematography, was the most important aspect of filmmaking for me.

I ended up holding an internship with Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel in NYC, as part of my MA program in Near Eastern Studies. Most of my time was spent covering the UN Security Council talks on the War on Iraq, a few months before its March 20, 2003 “launch”. Fortunately (but I didn’t feel lucky at the time), I did not finish my internship, rather I found myself bouncing back within a week, but this time as an assistant to an independent documentary filmmaker.

I learned the basics, the behind-the-screen life of an indie filmmaker, from fundraising to creative writing, and this experience culminated in my first “real” professional contract in that field, a Martin Scorsese Presents production. The end of that three-month contract led to my starting-out “solo” in the documentary business. Since January 2004, I have rarely looked back, besides when the lack of funding gets the best of my volition to create moving stories.

Bartering is central to my one-woman show, from volunteering for the International Women’s Peace Service while filming Uprooted (2006) to trading video ads for a friend in exchange for the opportunity to film whales.

I like telling stories, especially editing them even more so than recording them. In my life experience, the “recording script” is out of my hands: the life flow decides and I respond. The editing and interpretation, however, are my responsibility; my script can move and change with me organically in my imagination and receptivity and heart to leave me with a message, and lesson, of value.

Current Project/Need:

Free Women (working-title)

For the longest time I have wanted to make a docudrama about the Berber people of North Africa, whose very name is a variation of the Latin word for Barbarians; they were for the most part hostile to the Roman invasions and settlements of their territory. It must be noted that while the name “Berber” endured, from the Arab through the French colonization of North African lands, they, the Berber people identify themselves in their language as “Imazighen” or “Amazigh” in the singular: “free people” and/or “noble people”.

Amazigh people traditionally inhabited a broad swath of territory, ranging from Morocco to Egypt, and extending southward into the interior of the Sahara. Today, while still present in most of their ancestral territory, they are concentrated in Morocco and Algeria.

This project brings together a passion of mine---indigenous people, with their connection to the land, and my own personal history. My grandmother and great-grandmother on my father’s side were Tunisian Berbers.

I still remember my great-grandmother Salha...tall, proud with piercing blue eyes and long white hair. How scared I was of seeing her in the flesh! She towered over me and she had a twinkle in her eyes whenever she realized I was really that scared of her. A commanding presence, Salha vibrated feminine strength in a society where it was the men who were bred for power and expected to have such charisma. Indeed, Tunisian society in the beginning of the 20th century was not exactly the kind of space where women could feel and be so powerful.

While I never jumped on my great-grandmother’s Salha’s lap or her daughter’s, my grandmother Selma, I always felt in my core that when I’d come to be lost in my travels across foreign lands, I could always draw strength from both of them. I felt their presence in my lineage, holding me together, preventing me from fragmenting.

This project is still in the early stages of planning and research, but is something that, Insha’allah, I hope to bring to fruition in the coming years.

Assistance in any form is greatly needed and always welcome. Please feel free to contact me with your ideas, suggestions, offers of help, and, yes, donations.

Present Interests:

Healing the Self...Healing the Whole
Bringing Ayahuasca to conflict-zones...
Kundalini Risings...
Shamanism
The Soul of the Free Amazigh People
K for Kurdistan
Yoga
Redefining Sacred Prostitution
Aromatherapy
Capoeira
Alchemy

What is Creativity?


WEAVING STORIES BY LIVING THEM IN THE FLESH....

Previous Endeavors:

UPROOTED (2006) is my first feature-length documentary, in which I used my experience on the ground as a non-violent activist within the Free Palestine movement to weave a story about resistance and the right to resist. In that context, I interviewed several figures of resistance, from the ones who used armed struggle to peaceful protests, such as Ahmed Ben Bella, Leila Khaled and Noam Chomsky.
This film helped me create what has since become my modus operandi: weaving stories by living them in the flesh...

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