Pioneering Tunisian filmmaker Moufida Tlatli dies aged 73

The director's 1994 breakthrough feature 'The Silences of the Palace' won critical acclaim

Tunsian director Moufida Tlatli poses at the opening ceremony of the Carthage film festival (JCC) on October 23, 2010 in Tunis. AFP PHOTO/ FETHI BELAID (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)
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Pioneering Tunisian filmmaker Moufida Tlatli, known for the critically acclaimed titles The Silences of the Palace and The Season of Men, has died at the age of 73.

The news was announced on Tuesday, by the Tunisian Ministry of Culture, which stated she had died on Sunday.

Tlatli gained international recognition for her 1994 breakthrough feature The Silences of the Palace, which tackled themes of trauma and exploitation experienced by generations of Arab women, and was inspired by the director's mother. The film won a string of awards at film festivals around the world, including the Sutherland trophy at the London Film Festival, as well as being named one of Africa's 10 best films by director and critic Mark Cousins.

'The Silences of the Palace' by Moufida Tlatli. Courtesy Dubai International Film Festival

Born in Sidi Bou Said in 1947, Tlatli studied film editing in Paris, before returning to Tunisia to work as an editor in 1972. Speaking to The Guardian in 2001, she said: "Traditionally in the Arab film world, a girl works in continuity or is an editor. I had never thought of making films."

Following her breakthrough, she went on to make several more films, including 2000's The Season of Men, in which Tlatli dealt with relations between the men and women in a Tunisian community on the island of Djerba, where it is tradition for men to spend most of the year away working, returning for just one month.

Her third feature, Nadia et Sarra, released in 2004, starred Palestinian actor-director Hiam Abbass.

After the Tunisian revolution, in 2011, Tlatli was appointed as the country’s minister for culture in the transitional government.