The prestigious Etoile d’Or at the Marrakech International Film Festival found its home in a Moroccan film for the first time. Asmae El Moudir, the 32-year-old director, secured the coveted award for her documentary, “Kadib Abyad” (The Mother of All Lies), a unique exploration of her family’s haunted past and the broader history of Morocco during the “Years of Lead” under King Hassan II.
Faced with a lack of archival footage, she ingeniously employs a model of her childhood neighborhood in Casablanca and figurines to narrate her family’s past, set against the backdrop of the violently suppressed “hunger riots” in June 1981 in Casablanca.
“I’m very, very happy to receive the first Etoile d’or for Morocco. I’m not talking about myself today, I’ve already talked about myself and my film at all the festivals where I’ve won seventeen 17 prizes. Today is the 18th, and what 18th! For the 20th edition (of the festival, Eds.), we’ve got our first Etoile, it’s still 20 years, but we’ve got it, we’ve got it.”
The documentary ingeniously employs a model of her childhood Casablanca neighborhood and figurines to narrate her family’s untold stories against the backdrop of the violent suppression of the “hunger riots” in June 1981 in Casablanca.
“Each society possesses a truth that has been buried, burned, expunged, erased, but through imperfect collective memory, we preserve a history that cannot be erased through testimony, creation, and recreation,” said Jessica Chastain, the jury president, praising the film that had previously won the Best Director award in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival.
The Jury Prize was shared between Moroccan director Kamal Lazraq for “Hounds” and French-Algerian director Lina Soualem for “Bye Bye Tibériade,” recounting the life of Franco-Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass.
Ramata-Toulaye Sy, the French-Senegalese director, clinched the Best Director award for “Banel & Adama,” marking an important achievement for a debut film.
The festival also recognized outstanding performances with the Best Actress award going to Bosnian actress Asja Zara Lagumdzija for her role in “Excursion” and Best Actor to Turkish actor Doga Karakas for “Dormitory.”
This culmination of the 20th edition of the festival, held from November 24 to December 2, was marked by a sense of “sobriety” due to the ongoing conflict in Gaza.