GARDENS OF FEZ is a documentary (60 min) about the gardens of the medina of Fez in Morocco. Through the stories of people of Fez, the film shows the garden as a miniature of countless landscapes: imaginary spaces of memory, poetry, and thought that interweave with the spaces of the city.
SYNOPSIS The film opens with a scene on a rooftop in the medina. It is the end of the day, the sun is about to set and we look out over rooftops and terraces. There are three people on the terrace who seem to be preparing a theatre play. They are rehearsing dialogues. From this rooftop the documentary sets off for a journey through a labyrinth of alleyways: the oldest, biggest and best preserved medina of the Arab world that once enclosed many gardens. The opening scene emphasizes the aspect of the garden that is to create an imaginary space. As the first space that we create is through language, through our imagination and thought.
Accordingly, from an intimate and observing point of view, the film loosely blends captured images of the city spaces, parks and gardens, with portraits and stories of ten people whose lives are closely connected with the gardens of the city. From a gardener in his home with his family, to an architect who renovated the city park, from the park technician who never leaves the park, to a blind student in philosophy. Some characters are connected to each other in different situations, some are not. The connecting elements are the different dimensions of nature in the medina. While the film meanders along private and public spaces, the gardens of Fez form an imaginative and contemporary landscape: a bocage through which patches of time, reality and fiction appear and disappear.
BACKDROP Fez was renowned for its abundance of green spaces, where the gardens not only create a miniature landscape, but also depict a culture of living together, thanks to a special relation of the city with water. The city is built along a river, in a valley filled with springs. Until 30 years ago, garden plots and orchards formed a green belt around the city walls. In the labyrinth of the medina high walls enclosed the gardens of palaces and riads, and the rooftops were filled with medicinal plants and herbs. Until today Melhoun musicians are invited in the spring time to perform in Riad gardens, friends meet in the park Jnan Sbil, and on Fridays and Sundays families go for a picnic in the surrounding hills. However, during the last 50 years, because of modernization, pollution, privatization of the water system, lack of awareness, and general economical decline many gardens of the medina have disappeared. Gardens and their special position in everyday life seem slowly to be vanishing. However, because these developments took place in a relatively short period of time, memories and stories are still very much alive.
Last June, taking friends and visitors for a walk along the gardens of the medina to raise support for the project.
Follow the project in process on the Facebook Gardens of Fez, and www.fezgardens.com
Garden party, before the shoot with all participants, October 8 at Dar Batha, Fez.
With Benito, Second day shooting forgotten garden spaces.
Simo, wonderful sound pro.
Raja, just after the car scene.