Al Halqa - In the Storyteller's Circle
2010, Documentary, 90 min.
On Djemaa el Fna Square in the Moroccan city of Marrakech, Abderahim El Maqori tells stories that he has been collecting in his mind and heart since he was a child. Now that he is growing older, he is teaching his son Zoheir the tricks of a dying trade.
In the Halqa, the storyteller's circle, the boy practices his skills and his father provides blunt criticism. Once Zoheir, who got his name from a story that Abderahim told the day he was born, is ready for it, he and his father travel to Fez, the intellectual capital of Morocco, for the ultimate test on the large city square. The camera follows the pair on their journey, which is interspersed with stories about ghosts, kings, shoemakers and animals, and we get to see the special bond between father and son, who certainly do not agree with one another all the time. Zoheir has to find his own style for a new generation of listeners, who do not only want to hear about days long past, but also get information about things like AIDS. For the rest, the Halaiqi are not alone in wanting to keep the folk traditions intact. Zoheir's favorite actor Mohamed Hassan El Joundi explains why he records stories of bygone eras in his studio: stories nurture people and teach them to have ambitions and dreams.
The film was supported by:
Al Halqa Kinetics
Exhibition at Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin, 2011
In collaboration with Hannes Nehls
Al Halqa Virtual
The virtual square Jemaa El Fna as a collective memory
The intangible world heritage, the orally transmitted stories that have been given on from generation to generation are not only in the hearts and minds of the storytellers on Jemaa El Fna but also in the hearts and minds of each grandmother, each grandfather and part of the Moroccan people. Within time, the thread of transmission from one generation to the other has become fragile.
This is where the idea of the virtual museum Jemaa El Fna was born. In almost every Moroccan household is someone with a smartphone and therefore the ability to record images and sound. With the virtual museum, the Moroccan poeple are invited to record the stories or their grand-mothers and grand-fathers and upload these to the archive in order to share them with everyone.
It is not the already existing footage - hundreds of hours of video material, thousands of photographs, texts and historical material - but the active participation of visitors that can make "Al Halqa Virtual" a collective memory of the intangible world Heritage in Morocco.
Another important aspect - besides collecting tales - is to reveal the cultural context in which the hlaiqi of Jemaa El Fna square are performing, to throw a glance behind the coulisse.
Many of the halqas are inseperably connected with different regions of Morocco. Documentary films will tell these stories which will be accessible at the virtual platform in different languages.
Imagin to visit Jemaa El Fna square with its ever changing spectacle for the first time. A foreign world will open up In front of you with the hlaiqi in the middle of the circle of surrounding spectators. But what are they talking about? What is happening there and where does this century old form of culture come from?
On "Al Halqa Virtual" you will find information to these questions. You'll get the possibility to watch translated parts of their performances, hear about the cultural background and historical context. What kind of halqa was at this spot years ago and what was it all about - a virtual guide for the visitors of Jemaa El Fna square.