My Lost House, 2001

Shot from the austere interiors of a disused housing project that has been scheduled for demolition on the outskirts of Paris, Kamal El Mahouti, returns to the “home”of his youth in My Lost House where, in 1970, at the age of six, his family had immigrated from Morocco to France and lived at the housing project for the next twenty years. Juxtaposing the cold, oppressive, graffiti-riddled hallways and crumbling, derelict walls against the filmmaker’s collage of thoughtful, affectionate, and fond memories, photographs, and personal anecdotes from his childhood – his family’s first celebration of Christmas (after nagging his non-Christian parents to celebrate the holiday like his European friends did), his traditional rite of passage by participating in the sacrifice of a goat (all from the confines of the tiny bathroom in their apartment), his family’s unforgettable, non-stop, cross-country, “eight people crammed into a compact car” road trip for a Moroccan vacation – El Mahouti’s lingering, yet clinical gaze is a complex and bittersweet human history of opportunity and disenfranchisement, social openness and exclusion, assimilation and cultural erasure.

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