The Mother of All Lies
Traumas have often inspired filmmakers to contrast a documentary narrative with visual alienations. Asmae El Moudir chooses the form of a doll-populated miniature of the Casablanca neighbourhood where she grew up. In 1981, before she was born, a massacre took place there. The police and the Moroccan king’s military forces shot hundreds of participants of the so-called bread riots, who were protesting against continuously rising food prices. The detailed small-scale models – El Moudir’s father, a bricklayer, built the big versions with stone and cement! – may illustrate the events, but they also mark the distance to a history that lacks images and has long been concealed in Morocco.
The lack of images is mirrored in the family context. Why are there no childhood photos of her, the director wonders. Why does her mother finally present her with a single picture which, however, shows another girl? This film, cleverly constructed in every respect, finally gathers the family members around the miniatures of their neighbourhood. The constellation does not promise a collective truth, but, at least, a dispute of memories.