Mayar Nouri is a storyteller and uses his vast filmmaking talents to enthrall audiences. As an actor, he finds he has the opportunity to continuously explore. He discovers the world of a character that only existed on paper before. He believes the process of bringing that character to life forces a great deal of feelings and emotions and allows the freedom of letting go of your own ego and following the bliss of the told character. That is what he likes most about acting.
“As an actor, I feel the freedom of being in someone else’s life, even for a short period of time. The perspective it allows me to get is beyond my ability to put in words. Whether it is playing the part of a suppressed son who fights for his individuality or playing the part of a simple coffee boy trying to get through college, I feel acting puts a great responsibility on my shoulders that I greatly enjoy,” he said.
Throughout his career, Nouri has impressed worldwide audiences with both his acting talents and directing capabilities. The Syrian native is an award-winning filmmaker, having won “Best Director” at the Chandler Film Festival and “Best Cinematography” at the Hollywood Boulevard Film Festival for his film Signals last year, as well as “Best International Film” at the at Artisan Film Festival of International Cannes World Cinema Initiative 2015 for the film Ball of Hope.
As an actor, Nouri has captivated audiences around the Middle East and the rest of the world with his work on several hit television series, including Soder Al Baz, Al Ghorbal, and Tale Al’ Fidda. "Tale’ Al Fidda" is the name of on old Damascus neighborhood where one of the largest Jewish communities resided. In the 1910’s, these Jewish families started their slow march towards ‘Palestine’ to acclaim their promise land. The show of the same name revolves around the coexistence between the three big religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – during that time period.
“Tale Al’ Fidda is known to be one the top TV shows of all time here in Syria and being an essential part of it is greatly humbling and exciting. I am very glad to have been a part of it, and it will always be a memory I cherish and an experience I wear like a badge of honor,” said Nouri.
In the show, Nouri plays Mahmoud. The story of Mahmoud was critical to the plot because it tackled the only love story in the entire series. After getting a glance through his neighbor’s window and seeing their charming daughter, Mahmoud falls in love and they begin to exchange letters through rooftops. In an area filled with religious families the risks were extremely high, for if they were caught it would become a matter of dignity and honor.
“The story line of Mahmoud is very courageous for its time, which was the 1910’s. It is a love story through paper notes and secret meetings across windows in a time where women were not allowed to show their face or to speak to men outside of their home,” Nouri described.
Representing such a love story in such a difficult time requires a great deal of research and dedication, which is exactly what Nouri did, knowing how important his character’s storyline was to the show. At first, he was nervous to take on such a not only vital, but touching storyline, but that feeling quickly disappeared when he arrived on set.
“Back in 2010 when this project was getting developed, I remember that it was the talk of the town. Everyone wanted to work on Tale Al’ Fidda and everyone was trying to get involved. So, when the producer approached me for a role it was a no brainer,” he recalled.
One of the biggest challenges during the filming of Tale Al’ Fidda was the number of scenes that changed location from inside houses to out into the streets of the neighborhood. The interior locations were filmed nearly two months before the exterior (neighborhood streets) locations. Therefore, keeping mental continuity and emotional continuity required a big amount of concentration and focus. Nouri was able to successfully power through these challenges by writing specific personal notes for each scene and also working on improvisation sessions with other actors right before shooting.
“The production design was so amazing on this show that whenever you are on set, you really feel like this place is alive and it really is the 1910’s. That allowed me to extend my focus and imagination beyond the physical world of Mayar and to dive into Mahmoud’s world. That is what I enjoyed most about working on Tale Al’ Fidda,” he said.
The series was not only a hit in Syria, but countries all over the Middle East, making Nouri instantly recognizable everywhere. It was distributed on television through several networks, including LBC, New TV (AlJadeed), Kuwait TV, Jordan TV, Orbit Network, Abu Dhabi TV, Dubai TV, Syria Drama, and Sama TV, with online distribution on Watan Network.
“The story of Tale Al’ Fidda is an essential part of the history of Syria. It touches on so many sensitive topics such as love in a time of religious extremism, the Jewish immigration towards Palestine and the promised land, the corrupt government system of the Ottoman empire and many more,” Nouri concluded.
So, what’s next for this industry leader? Nouri has recently started a workshop with Director Mohammad Abd Aziz for the first independent feature film in Syria. Be sure to keep an eye out for it.