The 97-minute documentary is a fine blend of personal and national history and drama.
By Helena Olori
The Mother of All Lies, by award-winning Moroccan filmmaker Asmae El-Moudir, has been added to the Official Selection for the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival. It will join the array of African films screening at the festival, for its North American premiere.
The 97-minute documentary – a fine blend of personal and national history and drama – follows El Moudir’s quest to uncover her family’s buried past, as she “uses hand-made figurines and models to uncover layers of personal and political history.”
The film, also known as Kadib Abyad, earned her the “Best Director Prize” in the “Un Certain Regard” category at the 76th edition of the Festival de Cannes earlier this year. and was also the co-recipient of the festival’s Best Documentary Prize.
In this documentary, El-Moudir takes an innovative approach to her storytelling by enlisting her father, Mohamed, to construct a scale model of their Casablanca street, where she assembles her family and friends for “an epic session of group therapy, that veers between comedy and tragedy.”
As she grapples with her mother and grandmother’s perspectives about history, her creative method proves helpful as it reveals hidden memories, including the 1981 Casablanca bread riots, which has largely been erased from history books. Her storytelling serves as a testament to the power of art in confronting hidden memories.
Asmae El-Moudir, who is a graduate of the Moroccan Film Academy and La Fémis in Paris, directed several short films before working on her first feature-length documentary, The Postcard (2020). She has also worked on documentaries for international TV channels such as the BBC, Al Jazeera, Al Araby, and so on.