Araïs al-Teïn

Dolls of Clay
Directed by: 
2002

The village families entrust their young daughters to Omrane, a former household employee. The girls are taken to Tunis to work as maids. Little Feddha, who has just been engaged, is unable to adapt to her new life. When Rebeh, another village girl, runs away, Feddha has a break. Off she goes on a venture with Omrane, who is in love with Rebeh, searching the town for the one who escaped to be free. With a rare mastery of form, the film suggests more than it says; it creates atmospheres rather than situations and summons without giving ready-made solutions. Metaphors of action – that keep an adequate distance between vocation and translation – eloquently express the characters’ moods, rendering dialogues scarce. Thus little Feddha puts together and undoes her clay dolls, plunging herself in an imaginary world that allows her to save a bit of the childhood from which she was prematurely deprived. Far from endulging in moralism or doctrinal discourse, the director prefers for the viewer to explain things for himself; he wishes to remain at the level of emotion: thus he goes deep into the characters and their solitude without affording any explanation.