JEAN GENET, Our Father of the Flowers

Under the benevolent shadow of Jean Genet, buried in Morocco, this film is a dialogue between the living and the dead, an invitation to bring those realms together, between silent humanist revolt and poetic elegy. A family takes loving care of a white tomb, in a cemetery with a view of the sea. We are inLarache, south of Tangier, where Jean Genet lived the last ten years of his life.Today, the writer is finally home, among his own. And for the locals of the city, he is a legend.Few of them actually knew him. Still fewer have read him. Most all have reinvented him forthemselves. Everyone has their own story to tell. But they all agree on one thing: "Jon Joney"valued them. He was on their side. These simple, poor, quite frankly invisible individuals formthe voiceless and futureless people of Morocco. Living incarnations of the characters in hiswork, they now keep watch over his grave.

  • Dalila ENNADRE
  • Lilya ENNADRE
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    JEAN GENET, Notre Père des Fleurs
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 1 minute
  • Completion Date:
    May 30, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    300,000 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital video
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • no
Distribution Information
  • free
Director Biography - Dalila ENNADRE

Dalila Ennadre was born in 1966 in Casablanca, growing up in Paris, lived in Guyana, Germany, Canada and Morocco. As a self-taught filmmaker, she has made several documentaries on the struggle for Human and Women’s Rights in Morocco. Her award-winning films have received international attention, distribution, and have been shown at Category A festivals, on television, at universities, and in neighborhood associations. She returned to France where she schooled her daughter. And began to live between France and Morocco where she makes all her films and was directing her latest film “Jean Genet our father of the flowers”. She passed from this world on May 14, 2020. Our commitment to finish and show this film is as much on a contractual level as on a moral level. In order to honor her memory and her work.

Filmography : Love of each other - Doc, 52 mn, 2017 - Ali’N Prod / 2 M Tv,From cinema to possible - Doc, 83 mn, 2015, Label Vidéo / Walls and people - Doc, 83mn,2014, Label Vidéo, Djinn / I loved so much - Doc, 52 mn, 2008, AYA Films, Cinemada /Cinéma du Réel Paris, / I’d like to tell you - Doc, 52 mn, 2005, Play Films /Tarifa, / Fama, a heroine without glory - Doc, 52 mn, 2004, Ognon Pic- tures/Misr International Films / Mé Aïcha’s Caravane - Doc, 50 mn, 2002, France 5/ Jem Productions / El batalett, women from the medina - Doc, 52mn, 2001, L’Yeux Ouverts RTBF

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Director Statement

This film started the day I met the guardians of Jean Genet’s grave. It was by sheer chance that I found myself in front of this grave, of which I had been ordered to film images.
Today, I realize that it was the rather exceptional relationship between the guards and this dead person that led me to open the books of Jean Genet, guided by an unconscious need to uncover a link between this family of simple and illiterate people and one of the greatest authors of the 20th century. Reading his autobiographical novels bewildered me:
When I was eight years old, my mother died. I became a ward of the state and was placed in the Prevost orphanage, in the heart of Picardy. As soon as we arrived, I was given a kit: sheets, underwear, blouse, black ankle boots, marked with a matriculation number.
From then on, I was number 14. We were indeed all fed and washed, but by foreign, brutal hands. We remained among the poor, out of the world, apart.
When I discovered «The Miracle of the Rose» I was shocked to plunge back into the world of the children of my orphanage. A world forged with hatred, love, violence and genius, treachery and fidelity. Jean Genet had given them a voice, a form of recognition. Better yet, he gave life to all the orphans, all the abandoned of the earth. «Writing may be what you have left when you are banned from the word» he said.
For my part, I chose to film those to whom this word is precisely not given: the little people, the poor, the prostitutes, the thieves, the mothers, and others. Jean Genet lost his mother and Ilost mine. Of course, mine had not abandoned me, but still, she left me. Liberator, founder, her work undoubtedly helped restore my relationship with the world, with the truth, with the one that allows us not to sink into the denial where the guards of our prison confined us. Genet restored a fair, bright but sometimes painful place to my companions of misfortune. I loved them, they were a bulwark against the ferocity of the world. I shared their fears, their pains, their simple ecstasy, their funniness and, of some, the rage to live.
The author bewildered me but the people of Larache allowed me to discover the man and his immense humanity. About our respective lives, there will not be much in this film, but they certainly explain why I am sensitive to this family whose house lies in the middle of the cemetery, watching day and night over the graves.The cemetery is the main territory of the film. It is even a character in its own right, almost timeless, who survives the stories of so many, and will continue to survive, the place that abolishes our differences, our social distinctions, our smallness and our greatness and where we find ourselves equal.The cemetery is caught between the lighthouse, the prison and the harbour. It presents itself as a small theatre where paths cross.There are the guards and their children, Genet’s old friends, the visitors of Genet, the workers who take care of the stones, a whole back and forth of men and women around the grave, a whole flow of words and silences. It is all these lives,contextualized in this space, that I filmed. Starting with the family of Youness and Naima. Theirhouse stands at the center of the cemetery. A Muslim family watching over an old Christian cemetery. All have a story about Genet. There are those who rubbed shoulders with him without knowing that he was writing, and those who have not known him, if not by hearsay, but who convey rumours, repeat stories, invent fables. All of them maintain the legend of «Saint Genet» without knowing anything about the actor and martyr. And this is the real tomb. Even more than the white tomb faithfully maintained by Naima, it is the words, the actions, the narratives that it is embedded in.
Still, it is the life of the wretched, the left behind, the oppressed that it is about. They are the heroes of his work and of his life. They are also the main characters of this film. They orbit around the tomb of Genet as around a blind spot. But they are not just witnesses, storytellers of legend, a memory of words. They belong to the people of the invisible, those who leave no trace, neither a work, nor a signature, who barely have an existence. Their only good lies in their energy that allows them to overcome dramas, difficulties, submissiveness. Filming, for me, is an act of sharing. It’s a way of being close, of being at one with what's going on around me, around us, the person being filmed and me. Life happens, interviews are tales. It does neither proceed from discourse nor from representation. It is an action of oneself, a rebirth of the world, a movement out of oneself, a confidence, discontinuous but repeating itself on a daily basis.
I hope that this film will pay tribute to all those people whose silent brotherhood - addressed in Genet’s work - is obvious when we watch them live around the poet’s grave. Not to mention the energy, the poetry that often accompanies poverty in the effort to get away from it, not to fall victim to one’s living conditions but to rebel against them in order to open up to other possibilities.
This portrait from Genet to me, from Genet to the people in which everyone can build their own portrait, is deeply bound to the intimate and universal question that the film to come carries: what do we do with our pains? How can we take advantage of the one who inhabits each of us? It is a film nourished by compassion, by which cinema brings us together through storytelling, in order to continue living standing up.