"Renault 12" is the very personal epic journey of a son in mourning, a cinematic experience using the documentary material of the repatriation of the director's late mother from France to Tangiers. In a Renault 12, the French car that was hugely popular in 1970s Morocco, the director travels across France and Spain to seek a comical legacy. A chaotic road-movie, an initiation rite, and a veritable quest for identity.
“Love doesn’t give you the right to film” says the sister to her brother behind the camera. “You’ve got to stop making a career out of our mother’s death”. Several times in his film, Mohamed El Khatib is smacked in the face with these lessons in life and film directing. Some of the lessons are cruel, and others more gentle, but all of them are softened by the director-dramatist’s initial act, an act presented from the start as an act of mourning. El Khatib portrays himself as a character lacking in self-confidence, at times faintly ridiculous and often attention-seeking – the informal “you” of the voiceover tries desperately to attract the attention of his daughter, who prefers playing to listening to him… But we, as viewers, follow him in this almost burlesque Renault 12 road-movie with its chance encounters and family reunions, with the underlying constant “Everyone’s being very kind to me. But I feel alone”.
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Mohamed El Khatib
After studying Literature, attending Sciences Po and then the CADAC (Mexico’s Centre for Dramatic Art), and an unfinished sociology thesis on “Critique in the French Press” (supervised by Nicolas Pélissier), Mohamed El Khatib co-founded the collective Zirlib in Orléans in 2006. Its premise is simple: aesthetics are not devoid of political meaning. As an author, dramatist and director, he develops unique documentary fiction projects in performance, literature and cinema. With personal sagas, he invites a farmer, a cleaning woman and some sailors to work with him to write about the present. His filmmaking tackles the question of legacy in “Renault 12”, a road-movie between Orléans and Tangiers.