Two Documentaries Share l’Œil d’Or at Cannes

Four Daughters and The Mother of All Lies tie for festival's documentary prize

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Two films shared the l’Œil d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Four Daughters (Les filles d’Olfa) and The Mother of All Lies (Kadib Abyad) tied for the festival’s documentary honour. The films are directed by Kaouther Ben Hania and Asmae El Moudir, respectively, and both offer intimate studies of family dynamics. The l’Œil d’Or carries a cash prize of €5,000 and is organized by SCAM, a French collective for artists working in non-fiction, in collaboration with Cannes. Four Daughters is a Tunisian/French/German co-production and The Mother of All Lies a co-production between Morocco, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

Critics praised Four Daughters for its inventive hybrid approach towards family trauma. The film tells the story of a Tunisian woman and her four daughters, two of whom are played by actresses filling the roles of young women who cannot be present. Four Daughters is one of two non-fiction works in competition for the Palme d’Or this year. (Read POV’s review of the film here.)

The Mother of All Lies, meanwhile, sees El Moudir untangle her family history as she reflects upon the 1981 Bread Riots and echoes of the events in contemporary Morocco. The Mother of All Lies premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes.

“The documentary is a tool of resistance and a laboratory for the most liberated forms of cinema. Two female directors have embraced it to break the silences and overcome the traumas passed down from generation to generation,” remarked the jury in a statement. “The jury applauds the courage and imagination of Kaouther Ben Hania and Asmae El Moudir, who boldly invent devices that renew the language of reality, exploring and confronting the chaos of the world. They strongly and determinedly affirm that documentary is a major genre in cinema.”

The jury also gave an honourable mention to Sahra Mani’s Bread and Roses, which premiered in the Special Screenings. This year’s jury was comprised of American filmmaker Kirsten Johnson, Quebecoise actor/author Sophie Faucher, French director Ovidie, Mozambican festival director Pedro Pimenta, and French critic Jean-Claude Raspiengeas. Previous winners for the l’Œil d’Or include All that Breathes, A Night of Knowing Nothing, and For Sama.

Pat Mullen is the publisher of POV Magazine. He holds a Master’s in Film Studies from Carleton University where his research focused on adaptation and Canadian cinema. Pat has also contributed to outlets including The Canadian Encyclopedia, Paste, That Shelf, Sharp, Xtra, and Complex. He is the vice president of the Toronto Film Critics Association and an international voter for the Golden Globe Awards.

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