Ik ben een bastaard (I am a Bastard)

Special Mention Dutch Movies Matter Competion @ Movies that Matter 2022, as well as a beautiful 3rd place – as part of the audience award!

Flemish writer and playwright Rashif El Kaoui calls himself a bastard, a half-blood, a mongrel. The talented playwright has lived in his mother’s native Flanders his whole life. His Moroccan father left the scene a long time ago, and although Rashif bears his father’s surname, he knows little about his roots. At home in Flanders, Rashif has been fighting prejudice his whole life, even within his immediate family. In the road movie I am a Bastard (Ik ben een bastaard), Rashif goes in search of answers to soothe his struggles with his bi-cultural identity. Director Ahmet Polat recognises Rashif’s need to free himself and follows him in his journey to find redemption.

Rashif’s father, Ahmed El Kaoui, came to Europe as a child with his parents, like so many other ‘temporary’ foreign workers. His family traded their village in the Atlas Mountains for the mines of Belgium. Ahmed’s soul always continued to long for that feeling of freedom which cannot be found underground. Despite this longing, Ahmed stayed in Belgium, and there met Christine, Rashif’s mother. Rashif, born in 1988, was the product of their stormy relationship. Ahmed, despite protestations that he was fit to be a father, turned out not to be, unable as he was to withstand the temptations of alcohol. The relationship broke up and Ahmed became a ‘weekend father’. When Rashif was 11, he broke off all contact with his father.

In his film, Rashif goes looking for that part of his culture that he doesn’t know. He travels with Ahmet Polat from the flat grey motherland of Flanders to his Moroccan fatherland and to his father’s grave in the South of France – places he has never been to before. On his search, he hopes to find an explanation for the failed relationship with his late father. Through the stories from the father’s side of his family, he discovers that their sorrow is perhaps even greater than his own sorrow. During his journey, Rashif grapples with his own confusion, rage and sadness, expressing how he feels in original pieces of writing.

Thanks to the intimate dialogue arising from the shared bi-cultural heritage of both Polat and El Kaoui, the viewer is allowed to enter for a moment into the struggles of someone growing up between two cultures. This poetic documentary is Polat’s first film and premiered at the Movies That Matter Festival on April 9.  

Production details:
Ik ben een bastaard is a coproduction with Dutch public broadcaster NTR (Het Uur van de Wolf).

The documentary is part of a larger crossmedia project Wij zijn bastaard (We are Bastard) which also includes a theatre play De Bastaard, masterclasses, thematic evenings and life conversations with the audience and special guests, in presence of our artistic team. In collaboration with Het Zuidelijk Toneel, Stichting Nieuwe Helden and Studio Polat.


Ik ben een bastaard premiered @ Movies that Matter, in competition Dutch Movies Matter (April 8-16).

On television on Wednesday April 20, at 22.30 hrs, NTR Het Uur van de Wolf / NPO2.
Available online in The Netherlands @ NPO start.

Country: The Netherlands
Status: Released
Running time: ’55 minutes