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Hortus Harare

In 1979 ended the long and traumatic liberation war of Zimbabwe that took place in the bush. In 1962 the Botanic Garden of Harare was founded as a model of exactly this landscape. The film asks how the Zimbabwean landscape and the war trauma are interrelated.

The Zimbabwean liberation war lasted for 15 years and mostly had taken place far away from the cities in the bush lands all over the country. In this natural landscape traumatic scenes of violence and unimaginable atrocities were comitted by both combatting sides, but never have been reported officially to the Zimbabwean public. No truth and reconciliation comission (like later in South Africa) was installed after the war. On the contrary, the cruel events are tabooized until now and thus continue to traumatize a post war society. Former political or ethnic hostilities are still alive, sudden outbursts of violence can happen in a surrounding that looks pacified. 2 years before the war started the National Botanic Garden was founded. Situated in the heart of the capital Harare it represents all different landscape and vegetation forms of Zimbabwe. Normally serving as a place for botanic research and a leisure ground for the public the film Hortus Harare however understands it also as a landscape model of a post war trauma. It is asking how innocent a natural landscape still can look and sound alike when it is charged with memories of a traumatic history.

Special technical film characteristics
Hortus Harare takes advantage of some special characteristics of analogue film technique. Besides the images that were shot with a camera and the sound footages that were recorded on original location the film also uses "direct" images and sounds in reference to the taxonomic practice of the scientists of the National Botanic Garden in Harare. Plants were directly put on unexposed film material resulting in filmic fotograms of the plants. In the same way "direct" sound prints of the plants were realized and used for the optical soundtrack of the film.

Length: 6:00 min.
Format: 16 mm
Colour + black & white
Ratio: 1.37:1
Sound: optical mono
Language: English

Country/ Year
Spain/ Zimbabwe 2011

Andreas Wutz

Esteban Bernatas, Barcelona
La Virreina Centre de la Imatge, Barcelona

National Botanic Gardens and Herbarium, Harare, Zimbabwe

Director: Andreas Wutz
Script, photography, editing, animation, sounddesign: Andreas Wutz

Digital formats: HAMACA, Barcelona (www.hamacaonline.net)
16 mm prints: see production

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid
Center for Documentary Film, Prague