produced and directed by Bryony Dunne

To a backdrop of political upheaval, an island of green life floats in an arid Sinai desert; two Bedouin embark on a daily quest to keep their orchard alive.


Running Time: 28 min
Screening Format: DCP
Video/Audio: Color/Stereo
Language: Arabic, English
Subtitles: English


The Orchard Keepers takes us on a journey into the heart of the Sinai desert. Behind delicate stone walls we meet Dr. Ahmad, the last surviving herbalist trained in the ancient ways of desert healing. But it is Amariya – a fiery naturalist with a robust personality born of both scars and charms – who dominates the tale. Her relationship to the land has transformed her life in unlikely ways. The Orchard Keepers pays homage to her hypnotic, rhythmic, freedom.

Film-maker Bryony Dunne interweaves her personal story of discovery. What began as a short photography trip to focus on the remaining orchards, mutated into a more personal project. A year spent living with the Gabaliya tribe allowed unique insight into the stratified tribal structures and layers of myth that enshroud the mountain region.

The film drives home a singular concept: during a time of volatility in the country, the gardens of Amariya and Dr. Ahmad offer them a timeless, priceless stability. Their hands set deep in the earth, The Orchard Keepers locate themselves at odds with modernity, and at an opposite extreme to the comfortable daily reality of most viewers.

Successive Egyptian crises render the chance of a simple, traditional life more distant. As the odyssey of The Orchard Keepers leads us through a land undergoing profound change, the ancient desert gardens stand on the verge of being lost.

Will the ancient knowledge of The Orchard Keepers die with them? Or can the desert gardens bloom again?