Socotra, la isla de los genios, Jordi Esteva
Magia Lucana, Luigi di Gianni, 1958, Italy, 18mins
Socotra, la isla de los genio (Socotra, the island of the djinns), Jordi Esteva, Spain, 2015, 64mins
We close the season with a last double session that takes us to different possible magical worlds, territories in which the lines between legend and reality have been completely erased.
We begin with a document based on the studies of the anthropologist Ernesto de Martino on southern Italy and which collects the traditions of the peasants of Basilicata: from the rituals associated with birth to their funeral laments, as if life and death were enshrined in a magic circle.
And we continue with a land of legend, the lost island of Sinbad, whose inhabitants, in the words of Marco Polo, “were the wisest charmers and necromancers in the world”.
The film proposes a trip to the remote island of Socotra, in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Yemen, known in the ancient legends as the abode of the fabled birds the roc and the phoenix. Socotra does not have any natural shelter and the monsoons lash its coasts, turning them into an almost unreachable destination. This isolation has preserved a flora that seems to belong to another era. On the island grow the trees of incense and myrrh. The dragon’s blood tree, in the shape of a giant mushroom, also abounds. Its red sap was used by the gladiators of the Colosseum to smear their bodies, and by the luthiers of Cremona to give the final brush-stroke to their Stradivarius.
The trip is like a dream, like a door that opens onto a world that is about to disappear, a culture and a language (Socotri) that is related to the ancient language of the Kingdom of Saba. The film follows a group of camel drivers who head for the mountains before the rainy season. And at night, around the fire, stories of genies and monstrous serpents are told, and this is when this world opens up and also opens us to the idea of other possible universes.