The Mother of All Lies 2023

Kadib abyad

Directed by Asmae El Moudir Frames

Moroccan filmmaker Asmae El Moudir enlists her family and friends to help investigate the mysteries of her childhood and her family’s connection to their nation’s troubled past in this multi-award-winning documentary.

Aug 16

Hollywood Avondale

Morocco In Arabic with English subtitles
96 minutes Colour / DCP
documentary film exempt from NZ Classification labelling requirements

Director, Producer, Screenplay, Editor


Hatem Nechi

Production Designer

Mohammed El Moudir

Costume Designer

Ouarda Zorkani


Nass El Ghiwane


Zahra Jeddaoui, Mohamed El Moudir, Ouarda Zorkani, Abdallah EZ Zouid, Said Masrour, Asmae El Moudir


Cannes, Sydney, Toronto, DOC NYC 2023; Sundance, CPH:DOX 2024


Best Documentary and Best Director Un Certain Regard, Cannes Film Festival 2023; Best Film, Sydney Film Festival 2023


Winner of Best Documentary film at Cannes 2023 and shortlisted for the 2024 Academy Award for Best International Feature, Asmae El Moudir’s The Mother of All Lies is a truly unique cinematic work, combining unbridled courage and an original artistic vision.  

In her feature debut, El Moudir explores intertwined familial and collective traumas, unearthing silenced truths thanks to the cathartic power of cinema. The uncompromising director calls her own family into her experiment in art therapy. She enlists her father to recreate a cardboard replica of their family house and the street where she grew up. Within that backdrop, El Moudir uses tiny dolls to reenact a past that is both personal and political.  

Her family has in fact long lived under the silencing muzzle imposed by the authoritative grandmother Zahra, a stern guardian of the status quo, whose intimidating, unforgiving demeanor makes her the scary villain of the film. Yet, Zahra claims that it is out of love and protection of her dears that she imposed her rule. And indeed, something dreadful did happen on that street decades ago. El Moudir challenges her grandmother and breaks the silence around an untold tragedy, thus finding her own accomplished voice as a woman and as a filmmaker. — Paolo Bertolin 

“Playing both filmmaker and ringmaster, recreating scenes with figurines and allowing her family to let themselves open up on camera, El Moudir succeeds in making a very personal document into an enthralling piece of work. One that is inventive as it recognizes that the way to move forward requires a steely vision of the past – even if such reminiscences are sometimes better filtered through dolls and replicas (since photos and videos, in their fidelity to truth, have rightly been banished from this cultural imaginary). 

The Mother of All Lies is an astonishing work whose maturity comes from El Moudir’s wide-eyed approach to her family history, where memory and history are quite literally reduced to playthings in order to process the unspeakable events they conjure up.” — Manuel Betancourt, Variety