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The Tree – by Cheikh Mohammed Horma

An immersive visual experience of Sahara desert, exploring the changing balance between man and nature

2017 | 5 - 10 | Docudrama | Man and Nature | Morocco | Observational

A lumberjack travels in the desert. There’re just sand dunes, ants, dromedary camels and bulldozers around him. A bunch of machines in search of water, caged like oil under the ground. Heat and dust in a narrow and flat land covered in ivy. The man is carrying his provision. Getting to a peaceful haven, he contemplates nature and its calm. Then he ends up tired under a tree shade, alone in the barren space.

The Tree, written and directed by Moroccan journalist Cheikh Mohammed Horma, is part of the Sahara Lab workshop, a Moroccan educational and media NGO whose mission is to identify, encourage and train emerging film and media makers to tell their own stories about Morocco’s diverse, desert culture and its people from Ouarzazate to Dakhla (where the film was shot), from Guelmim to Smara.

Organized by Hammadi Gueroum (film critic, aestethic professor, founder and director of Rabat International Film Festival, and founding member of the Moroccan Association of Film Critics), the Lab features as mentors Moroccan filmmaker Hakim Belabbes (Sweat Rain), American film professor and producer Don Smith, Tunisian DOP Amine Messadi (Ala Eddine Slim’s The Last of Us), sound engineer Samir Mellouk, and Swedish post-producion supervisor and VFX-artist Peter Cohen.

The Sahara becomes a space of observation, contemplation, and reflection. As “it’s not important to invest a story that looks like reality, but the most important thing is to tell reality as a story,” according to Cesare Zavattini. Alternately doc and fiction, long shots and details, silences and noises, The Tree – selected at the 2018 International Film Festival Rotterdam – explores the changing balance between man and nature. A glimpse into a modern and urban twist on subsistence.

Alessandro Zoppo

Alessandro Zoppo

Editor-in-Chief @ Good Short Films

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