The backgrounds of these builders, their skills and their motives for creating this architectural work of art also fascinated director Isabel Fernández. The result of this fascination and the subsequent unprecedented artistic-scientific collaboration is the film ‘The builders of the Alhambra’, which can be seen in cinemas from 25 November. The film crew even got unique filming access to the world-famous building in the southern Spanish city of Granada.
Travel through space and time
Based on the chronicles of the 14th century written by the vizier and poet of the king of Granada Ibn al-Jatib, the director Isabel Fernández immerses the viewer in a journey through space and time to discover the people responsible for its construction of the Alhambra palaces. In fact, Granada Digital describes it as “an astral and poetic journey that explores the architectural and philosophical significance of one of the most iconic buildings in the world.”
An unprecedented artistic-scientific collaboration
The production of the documentary started a year ago and the release date has finally been announced: November 25 in cinemas.
The script, written by the director himself together with Margarita Melgar, has received scientific support from the best experts from the board of La Alhambra, the University of Granada and the School of Arabic Studies of CSIC, in an unprecedented artistic-scientific collaboration.
Rare shots inside the building
It is the first time that the Alhambra allows recordings of the category of this film documentary. The building complex is known as the most restrictive Spanish building when it comes to admission permission.
In order to film indoors, the production had to design a shooting plan that was completely adapted to the requirements of such a special location, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, under extremely strict conditions.
The story follows Yusuf I, the Sultan of Granada. Knowing that his beleaguered kingdom of Granada is doomed to disappear with the advance of neighboring kingdoms, he begins the construction of a building that reflects the splendor of his civilization and defies oblivion: the palaces of the Alhambra. His vizier, Ibn al-Khatib (Amr Waked), a poet and genius ahead of his time, joins this colossal challenge. But when the sultan’s son, Mohammed V, inherits the throne and involves him in his government’s new policies, the crosshairs split between the ideas of his old world and the new one that is emerging. The chronicles tell the viewer the story of Granada in the 14th century.
Amr Waked as Ibn al-Jatib
International star French-Egyptian actor Amr Waked (“Syriana”; “Salmon Fishing in Yemen”; “Lucy”) awakens the main character Ibn al-Jatib, a fundamental figure of the Iberian Peninsula in the 14th century, author of the ‘Chronicle of the Kings of Granada’ – Also the first-hand voice that tells the secret behind the Alhambra.
Other actors of North African descent such as Sofian Benaissati (“The Daughter”; “Fighter”), Farah Hamed Ali (“Elite”; “The Last Days”) or Adil Koukouh (“Entrevías”; “El Cid”) complement this story from that time Andalusia was one of the most advanced centers of knowledge in Europe.
The origin of the project
The director Isabel Fernández explains the origin of the project: “I have always been fascinated by the Islamic heritage in Europe and especially the Alhambra, which is his masterpiece. I have always been surprised at how little has been said about this part of the story. Therefore, six years ago I decided to immerse myself in the history of Granada to try to understand the meaning of this building that fascinates everyone.
This amazing story of its origin needed someone to tell. My wish is that it makes people think about a fundamental part of who we are and justify the importance of Al-Andalus in the genesis of European culture.