“Qudad” takes place in the town of Rada, during the conservation work at the ‘Amiryia, a XVI century mosque and madrasa. This unique project has lasted almost 20 years so it has been a long-standing presence in town. It has provided work for most of the local male population and on its site the men have been trained with new techniques that will help them find work in the future. In the case of Qudad, what interested me was how the conservation work changed the attitude of the workers toward the monument. So I decided to use the excuse of documenting step by step a recovered building technique, to portray the workers, the real protagonists of a project that has given back to Yemen its single most important monument.
In 2012 I donated to the British Library the recordings of the qudad workers’ song taped while filming the documentary. They are now available at the BL’s World and Traditional Music section which has the url bl.uk/wtm
Qudad – Reinventing a Tradition is the second film I have done in Yemen - after The Architecture of Mud. Both projects look at architecture and tradition. They visually describe very specific processes (mud building in The Architecture of Mud, lime waterproofing in Qudad) as expedients to show the society they belong to.
The Hadhramaut region in the south east of Yemen is renown for its mudbrick architecture. Throughout the centuries, the population has created a unique architectural environment. For this reason the area was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1981.
The film is a portrait of a society at the brink of change - as narrated by its protagonists. Speaking in first person – the film has no voice over – local masons describe their working techniques and the challenges they face with the introduction of new, imported building materials. “The Architecture of Mud” documents the vernacular architecture, the building craft and the society they belong to.