Film AlUla, Stampede Ventures reveal films to be shot in Saudi Arabia under 10-project deal

Film AlUla, Stampede Ventures reveal films to be shot in Saudi Arabia under 10-project deal

‘Arab cinema needs support,’ says Cannes prize winner Asmae El-Moudir ahead of RSIFF debut

TORONTO: The documentary that won Moroccan filmmaker Asmae El-Moudir a best director prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival will be screened at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah.

“The Mother of All Lies” took the honors in the Un Certain Regard section, as well as winning the prestigious L’oeil d’Or prize for best documentary. The film explores El-Moudir’s personal journey, unraveling the mysteries of her family’s history against the backdrop of the 1981 bread riots in Casablanca.

El-Moudir, a regular on the international film festival circuit, spoke to Arabian Weekly about both the film and her desire to see Arab cinema attract more support.

“I think every filmmaker in the world dreams of having their film premiere in a big festival like Cannes or Sundance or the Berlinale or Venice,” she said.

“It wasn’t easy for me as a filmmaker, producer and editor to bring this film to the international level but with the support from the Red Sea Festival, the Arab Documentary Photography Program and Doha Film Institute, people from the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, things became easier.”

The film poster for ‘The Mother of All Lies.’ (Supplied)

Morocco has chosen “The Mother of All Lies” as its submission for the best international feature film category in the 96th Academy Awards, which will take place in March next year. With the official nominations yet to be announced, El-Moudir said: “This means a lot for me and for my characters, because I’m talking about a sensitive subject.

“I was also afraid to make this a subject to talk about because I was protecting my family, and I had no idea how we can talk about the past freely without hurting anyone, without looking for guilty people or denouncing anyone.”

El-Moudir’s decade-long journey in making “The Mother of All Lies” has taught her a valuable lesson — the importance of time in crafting meaningful stories.

“There is no rush to make films, especially when we are talking about real facts,” she said. “We should wait for the project. I made this film in 10 years. I was super tired and exhausted, but I don’t regret anything. If I had made this film five years ago, maybe nobody would have watched it. It needed maturity and took time to talk about how we can make a national story an intimate one.”

Discussing what she hoped the audience in Jeddah would take away from her film, El-Moudir emphasized the need for support within the Arab filmmaking community.

“I’m sure the audience in Saudi Arabia will identify themselves in this story. We have the same aspirations, we have the same vocations. I would tell the audience please come and discuss the films. Whether it’s Moroccan or Saudi Arabian, or Tunisian or Egyptian, Arab cinema needs support, and we should support each other.

“I hope people from Saudi Arabia will understand a lot of time has passed working on this film, and maybe younger generations of filmmakers will be happy to see we need time to make films. And we should not be afraid if ideas are not here today. In five years, they will be, and we will be everywhere.”

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