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Groundbreaking Arab Filmmaker Passes Away

The Arab film industry mourns a monumental Tunisian director.

Moufida Tlatli, famed for her 1994 breakthrough feature film, “The Silences Of The Palace,” which explored themes of trauma and the plight of being an Arab woman, has passed away at 73. The film is a tale of a woman who returns to an abandoned palace, and won several international awards including a London Film Festival prize for being the “most original and imaginative” film of the year, the Golden Camera award at the Cannes film festival, and the International Critics Award at Toronto International Film Festival in 1994.

Also noted as one of Africa’s 10 Best Films by director and film critic, Mark Cousins, Tlatli’s film was a story inspired from experiences closer to home, the obstacles and struggles of her own mother’s life.

Moufida was broke a glass ceiling in the world of Arab cinema, she had once said, “Traditionally in the Arab film world, a girl works in continuity or is an editor. I had never thought of making films.” Further delving into narratives that surrounded gender, she released the film “The Season Of Men,” in 2000 which explored relationships between the genders.

Specifically, the movie focused on a group of men and women who lived on the island of Djerba in Tunisia, where the men spent 11 months working away, only to return for one month every year.

Met with critical acclaim, the female Arab filmmaker’s film was a triumph and also won several international awards. Born in 1947 in Sidi Bou Said, Tlatli studied film editing in Paris before moving back to Tunisia in 1972, and following her years of filmmaking, she was appointed Minister of Culture in Tunisia after the country’s revolution. 

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