The most extraordinary saga of Jewish history you've never heard of.
"From Cairo to the Cloud is the first documentary feature about the
Cairo Geniza, and the stunningly vital society it reveals."
The Cairo Geniza is a collection larger, more varied and, arguably, more significant than the fabled Dead Sea Scrolls. It is not only the largest cache of Jewish history ever found, it is a window into a vanished civilization, with over half a million manuscript fragments illuminating over a thousand years of Jewish, Christian and Moslem life in the heart of the Islamic world.
The Cairo Geniza is an accidental archive of unprecedented diversity, including religious texts and medical prescriptions, literary treasures and love letters, marriage contracts and business reports, magical amulets and children’s drawings.
Manuscripts emerge from every segment of society, from the impoverished beggar to the celebrated scholar. Among the most breathtaking of the Geniza’s many discoveries are hand-written drafts penned by Moses Maimonides himself, the legendary 12th century rabbi, scholar, philosopher and physician to the Sultan’s court.
Over a millennium since it’s discovery, the Geniza remains acutely relevant. Documents from its 10th to 13th century “golden age” testify to a period of relative religious tolerance nearly unimaginable today. It was an era in which nearly ninety percent of the Jewish people lived in Islamic lands. Although the status and security of non-Moslems varied over time and Jews, Christians, and others were subject to various forms of discrimination and periodic violence, the Geniza reveals a deeply enmeshed religious co-existence in which non-Moslems could generally flourish.
That co-existence nurtured a complex and rich society that traded goods and ideas from India to Spain, created a vibrant, hi-tech, and riotously colorful world, and initiated advances in every aspect of culture, science, philosophy, medicine, and theology. In many ways, the Geniza reflects a world remarkably similar to our own.
After they were discovered, the documents in the Geniza were dispersed among seventy different libraries and collections all over the world. Today, thanks to an unprecedented international effort, the Geniza archives have been digitally re-united. After a thousand years of silence, the documents have journeyed from Cairo to the cloud where they are freely accessible online to everyone, everywhere.
Animation by Good Bad Habits
Animation Director: Tisha Deb Pillai
Writer / Director: Michelle Paymar
Producer: D-Facto Filmstudio
Editor: Eddie O
Visual Effects: Daryl Jolly
Photo Restoration & Graphics: Veronique Martinaud
"It was an era in which nearly ninety percent of the Jewish people lived in Islamic lands."
Michelle Paymar is a Vancouver based director and producer.
Her independent work has screened at festivals around the world and she has extensive credits as a director and writer of documentary and non-fiction television programs for NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, CBC, MTV, CTV, Travel, Discovery, History, and other major broadcasters.
Her production company, D-Facto Filmstudio, makes independent documentaries and promotional films for nonprofits and NGOs. Clients include Amnesty International (Canada), Alzheimer's Services of the East Bay (California), and the Ayubowan Women's Project (Sri Lanka). Earlier films include her pioneering AIDS documentary, For Our Lives, and Sippie, a documentary about classic blues artist Sippie Wallace (Co-Directed with Roberta Grossman).
She received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film Directing from the American Film Institute and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Berkeley. Paymar is a member of the International Documentary Association and Women in Film.