Cannes: Arab films 'Four Daughters' and 'The Mother of All Lies' share top documentary prize

Cannes: Arab films ‘Four Daughters’ and ‘The Mother of All Lies’ share top documentary prize

Two documentaries by Arab female directors jointly won this year’s L’Oeil d’or (Golden Eye) award for best documentary at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival.

by Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania Four daughters AND The mother of all lies by Moroccan debut director Asmae El Moudir were announced as this year’s best documentary winners at a ceremony in Cannes on Saturday.

Both films use experimental cinematic techniques to explore stories of trauma from their home countries. In The mother of all lies, El Moudir explores the history of his family and the stories and lies told about the upheaval and violence of the 1981 bread riots in Casablanca. With no archival footage or photographs to draw on, he painstakingly recreates, from his own memory, his family’s old apartment and old Casablanca neighborhood in the form of a miniature set on a stage, with figurines representing members of the his family.

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In Four daughters, Ben Hania focuses on the story of Olfa Hamrouni and her children. His two eldest daughters disappeared as teenagers and may have joined ISIS. Ben Hania chooses the actors to play the missing daughters in the documentary, to recall the devastating experience of losing the family.

Winning the Oeil d’or honor automatically qualifies both films for an Oscar. Ben Hania’s latest feature film, The man who sold his skinearned an Academy Award nomination for Best International Film in 2021.

It was the second award in as many days for El Moudir, who picked up the Best Director award in the Un Certain Regard section of Cannes for The mother of all lies on Fridays. The mother of all lies arrived at Cannes without distribution, but sales group Autlook should have no problem finding a buyer now for the critically acclaimed and two-award winning drama.