Title   Cast   Director   Year Shown  Other Info    Country  Notes 


Tunisia, 1988, 90 min

Shown in 1989


Nejia Ben Mabrouk
Nejia Ben Mabrouk
Marc-André Batigne
Moufida Tlatli
Fatma Khemiri, Basma Tadjin, Mouna Noureddine, Othman Khemili


No Money Company
U.S. Premiere

Caught in the shifting sites of her country's social evolution, Sabra lives in a small Tunisian village. It is a culture she loves but finds suffocating, for it shuts women away. Néjia Ben Mabrouk explores this contradiction in her intelligently directed debut feature, in which every angle, every camera move has rigor and weight. The film mixes present and past: Flashbacks takes us to Sabra, age ten, already realizing she will never submit to her culture's paternal hierarchy. In spite of the family's poverty and her father's opposition, Sabra obstinately pursues her studies. Her mother would be happy if her daughter followed tradition but nonetheless supports her resolve to leave. The mutual tenderness between these two women remains unspoken. (The little girl repeatedly asks: "Tell me a story." Her mother responds: "I only have my own story.") Sabra's studies take her to the city where she finds herself alone. Despite their contemporary lifestyles, even her women friends remain entrenched in old beliefs. The Trace is content to introduce us to a complex protagonist—it does not insist we identify with her although her story captivates and moves us. North Africa reveals a talented new director.

—Marie-Pierre Macia