Li Dongmei was born in a rural village in Chongqing Province, China. She studied English and American literature and became an English teacher in Futian middle school. She happened to watch an Iranian film and it had such an impact on her that she decided to study filmmaking. In 2013, she was accepted into the Victorian College of the Arts at Melbourne University. From 2012 to 2015, she directed 2 short films each year, and her first feature Mama was premiered at the Venice Days.