The Mother of All Lies
A fascinating hybrid of documentary and feature filmmaking, The Mother of All Lies finds Moroccan filmmaker Asmae El Moudir using her medium to elucidate a past shrouded in deception and trauma. Introducing the murky parameters of the narrative of her family’s history, as imparted to her by her mother and the domineering, authoritative figure of her grandmother, El Moudir invites us to ask a question that she has been asking since her teenage years: why is there only one photo that appears to exist from her childhood?
It’s a question, which, whenever unearthed, has been the source of friction between the three generations. According to her mother, the religiosity of her stern grandmother forbids photographs of anyone in the house. It’s an explanation that the adult El Moudir refuses to accept at face value. In an attempt to delve into the rabbit hole and emerge from it with some semblance of truth and closure, El Moudir reconstructs the past, using diorama models, major locations and people who shaped her family’s experience. Gathering members of the immediate and extended family around the mock-up neighbourhood in the studio in which it was assembled (who are themselves represented in the recreation), the painful process of remembrance exhumes a story of political oppression and personal trauma, which extends well beyond the strict religious codes of the family’s matriarch.
While The Mother of All Lies is not a film which explicitly holds a mirror up to her chosen medium, it is, in many ways, an exercise in cinematic therapy. El Moudir’s approach to remembrance is one of multi-layered reality: the reality of the historical events and facts, and the compartmentalised reality constructed in the inner worlds of the survivors, while the director astutely recognises the relationship of filmmaking to both. The diorama models represent almost every account, supplemented at times by participants’ interactions with them. They also imbue the feature with a sense of the uncanny, a representation of how events and truth can be distorted by memory and wilful suppression.
It’s an intriguing, original amalgamation of the historical and the deeply personal, and a tonally finely-tuned piece of investigative, journalistic filmmaking.
The Mother of All Lies does not have a UK release date yet.
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