Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival 2020

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Vibrations in Upper Atlas

Daily life in the Aït Bouguemez Valley is documented in this film by Izza Génini. Nestled in the Atlas mountains, the residents of this small village work the land in time with the natural rhythms of the landscape. Sound and tempo are part of the composition of daily life where ancient celebrations are passed down through generations.

In this Programme:

Vibrations in Upper Atlas

(Izza Génini, 1993, 27 mins)

Introduction

Vibrations in Upper Atlas

An introduction from filmmaker Izza Génini

Vibrations in Upper Atlas

With the coming of spring, a village in the Atlas mountains comes to life. As the melody of the zamar floats through the air, people work the land and sheep roam. Snow melts to a rumbling stream. The composition of the landscape and the buildings that sit within it become central to the viewer’s understanding of this place.

Due to the large Muslim population in Morocco, the musical traditions that Génini has shown in her other films have been deeply connected to Muslim celebrations. But the Amazigh people of the Aït Bouguemez valley’s cultural heritage pre-date the arrival of Islam in Morocco and the folklore of their tribe is much more connected to the natural elements of the world.

While Génini’s other films have often focused on big occasions and celebrations, Vibration en Haut Atlas shows the rhythms of everyday life for the people in this mountainous region. Singing and music seem to be part of the composition of daily life. Celebrations are connected to nature and the land – the dance of ahwach connects the people to the cosmos, representing the movement of the planets and a cleansing ceremony of fire signifies the end of the evening’s festivities.

The pace at which language changes becomes apparent, as Génini refers to the place as “Berberland”, berber being a catch all term to describe the pre-Arab inhabitants of North Africa. The name by which these people call themselves, Amazigh, is still unspecific, and doesn’t necessarily denote the varied communities living in North Africa.

While in her other films Génini often focuses on the voice or drums as the central carriers of rhythm, in Vibration en Haut Atlas, a woodwind instrument is introduced when musician Mohammend Ben Aïssa is depicted playing a zamr, a sort of double clarinet made of wood.Tambors, a drum made from goat skin, play a crucial part in the ceremony of the valley. By drawing attention to the materials of these instruments, Génini shows how life in rural areas has differed from in cities—highlighting an interdependent relationship between the land and the people that live on it: the rhythms of nature and people synchronising. —Myriam Mouflih

Short Biography

Born in Morocco and of Moroccan ancestry, I spent a happy childhood and teenage before moving to Paris with my parents. Some fifteen years, later, certain to have exchanged the moroccan culture for a fully integrated Parisian life, I decided with my husband to have a week of vacations in Morocco. The warm atmosphere caught hold of me as soon as I went out of the plane. It was  then the beginning of a love reunion with my native country. Step by step, this lead me into the most enthralling experience of my professional life, to be finally the director of a whole collection of documentary films, for an homage and a sharing of this huge culture that Morocco and Moroccans were offering to me with such a generosity!..

.The title “MOROCCO BODY AND SOUL” forced itself upon me at once and inaugurated the way that was spread with infinite fights and joys and produced some twenty documentaries that are here presented. They tell, each one in its own way, about the soul and the body of Morocco. 

Filmography

Filmography

Nûba d’or et de lumière / Nûba of gold and light

Tambours battant / With drum beating

Pour le plaisir des yeux / For the eyes’ delight

La route du cédrat / Citron, fruit of splendour

Voix du Maroc / Voices of Morocco

Concerto pour 13 voix / Concerto for 13 voices

Retrouver Oulad Moumen / Return to Oulad Moumen

Gnaouas / Gnaouas

Nuptiales en Moyen Atlas / Nuptials in middle-atlas

Vibrations en Haut Atlas / Vibrations in high-atlas

Moussem / Moussem

Rythmes de Marrakech / Rhythms of Marrakech

Malhoune / Malhoune

Chants pour un Shabbat / Songs for a Shabbat

Cantiques Brodés / Embroidered canticles

Louanges / Hymns of praise

Des luths et délices / Lutes and delights

Aïta / Aïta

Transes / Trances (as producer)

Director

Izza Génini

Production Countries

France Morocco

Production Year

1993

Duration

27 mins

Dialogue Language

Arabic

Subtitle Language

English

Print Contact

Izza Génini