The Ornament of the WorldIn the harsh and painful glare of the violence and hatred that has thus far defined the 21st century--fueled by seemingly intractable and unsolvable conflicts among Muslims, Jews and Christians--it may seem inconceivable that people of these three faiths could ever live in relative harmony. But for an 800-year period in Medieval Spain that is precisely what happened. This documentary, inspired by Yale University Professor Maria Rosa Menocal's book, The Ornament of the World, documents this extraordinary period of human history during which the people of Spain forged a common cultural identity that transcended their religious differences. Though this period was marked by frequent strife, the Jewish scholar Maimonides wrote his great philosophical treatises in Arabic; marvelous churches borrowed freely from the architectural style of Spain's most important mosques, and Islam grew richer and more vibrant through its interaction with Jewish and Christian cultures. But it was not to last.
In 1492, Spain's Christian rulers expelled Jews from Al Andalus. A little more than 100 years later, Muslims too were given the choice of conversion or exile. According to renowned NYU Professor F.E. Peters, one of the advisors to our project, this tragedy represents the triumph of intolerance over tolerance. But as UCLA Professor Teofilo Ruiz reminds us, "Spain remains to this day the product of the combination of these three cultures, which forged a new kind of civilization and culture, one that still has a lot of remnants and visual presence of the past."
NewsOrnament of the World in post-production
April 2013 -- We have finished editing our rough cut and are now beginning the animation process. We will finish the film in late 2013 - early 2014 and look forward to a PBS primetime broadcast later in 2014.