“A new Morocco”, Asmae El Moudir on “The Mother of all lies”

With just one small photo at the start, Asmae El Mudir succeeded in restoring and telling a hidden history of Morocco, the “bread riots” in Casablanca, bloodily repressed in June 1981 by the authoritarian regime of Hassan II.

For her formal audacity, the young Moroccan director was rewarded with the prize for directing and best documentary at the Cannes Film Festival.

She is also the first Moroccan to win the Golden Star at the Marrakech Festival and was shortlisted at the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

The Mother of All Lies

is released this Wednesday, February 28 in theaters in France.

“The Mother of All Lies”, a film by Moroccan director Asmae El Moudir.

© Insight Films

By: Siegfried Forster Follow


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At first, the film is titled

Kadib Abyad

, meaning "white lie" and in French,

The Mother of All Lies



Since my short films, I like to have this gap between the original title and its translation, so as not to come across the direct translation.

I like that the Arabic name corresponds to Arab culture and the French name to beautiful French literature.


“This lack of images”


Asmae El Moudir

helps her parents move out of their family home in Casablanca, she comes across a photo that holds many secrets.

Image has always played a very big role in the director's life: “ 

Because there was this lack of images.

In the film, we start with one photo and end up with 500 hours of rushes.

It's like my life.

I am part of the 1990 generation. When I was growing up, there was no Internet.

Around the year 2000, it became accessible in


, in working-class neighborhoods.

I am part of the generation that took advantage of this era of imagination, because there was so much nothing, that we were always imagining things.

For me, the Internet has destroyed everything, our beautiful imagination.

Today, we can't even imagine something, because we immediately say: "

Google, help us!


The film is made with the first part of me, not the second part.


But how to unravel the mystery?

How to approach the shadows of the past?

How can we talk about people who have forged their identity from secrecy?

The director decides to launch an investigation giving voice to characters transformed into clay figurines.

And the neighborhood where all the lies and crimes took place is also resurrected in miniature.


My father is a bohemian artist.

He always worked with his own hands, he never went to school.

Maybe I got my artistic side from him.

When I was little, he made me little houses where I could be inside.

Finally, we came back to that.

We had a little blockage regarding how to tell the story in these small, therefore inaccessible, settings.

But the idea was to return to this naive look of the little twelve-year-old girl who is me.


Asmae El Moudir, Moroccan director of “The Mother of All Lies”).

© Siegfried Forster / RFI

“Weaving the links between the personal and the irrational”

This unique cinematographic technical device is the key to this very confusing “model film”.

Spectators are tossed between the documentary reality of terror and the fictional poetry of the staging.


The idea also came from a lack.

The idea was to find a device that helps me weave links between the personal and the irrational, without leaving the form.

Take the viewer in hand, from the first image to the end.

It took a long time.

So, I take the time to create my own archives, to end up in my laboratory where I have brought back all my characters.

This is when I begin to exploit a new form, a hybrid format in form, but also in a manner.

I was forced to look for such a device, because my characters couldn't speak in the places where they live.

For them, “

the walls have ears”


They always think that if we talk about our past, it's something that will hurt someone else.

So I prove to them in this film that today we are in a new Morocco, we can talk about our past, we can speak freely, talk about what happened.

It's our past.

Personally, I like this exploded, free, skimmed form, with fictional materials…

Talking about what happened in June 1981 in Morocco remains an ordeal to this day.

Asmae El Mudir was born in 1990 in one of the neighborhoods of Casablanca where the riots led by the unions against the explosion in the price of flour had taken place.

A neighbor was killed with two bullets in the back of the head, others speak of a “massacre”, “butchery”, with hundreds of deaths and people tortured.


Everything said in this film is real.

And it's so hard that we shouldn't have told it... We had to work on a process, which is part of the film, so as not to be as shocking as what we're going to tell.

What we are saying is not something new.

Everyone knows there was this event.

Like all countries, we have a past and we reappropriate this past…


“The Mother of All Lies”, a film by Moroccan director Asmae El Moudir.

© Insight Films

“My own Morocco, today, I feel a certain freedom”

The Mother of All Lies

aims to find the missing pieces of a family history to reconcile herself with her country's buried past.

In this family constellation, Asmae retains the role of conductor, but she has achieved the feat of getting her whole family to collaborate: the father makes the characters and reconstructs the little houses, the mother sews the clothes for the figurines and the grandmother mother embodies the repressed past.

The latter is described by everyone as a “dictator” who controls everything, scares everyone and spies on the neighbors.

Despite this,

my grandmother and I are a very beautiful relationship.

It's another generation and I respect their generation.

She is someone who could not change suddenly, because she had lived in a Morocco which is not my Morocco.

My own Morocco, today I feel a certain freedom with artistic expression.

A director is someone who seeks form, who seeks how to tell the story that has already been told.

I started with real characters and ended with my own characterization, like in fiction.

I love exploiting reality with my share of fiction.



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