The Silences of the Palace (Les Silences du Palais)

Director: Moufida Tlatli
Screenwriters: Moufida Tlatli

Institute History

  • 1995 Sundance Film Festival


At the age of twenty-five, Alia returns home, weary of her career singing for weddings and heartsick at her lover’s insistence yet again on an abortion for the child she carries. The occasion is the death of the prince, Sid’Ali, and “home” is the royal palace, now fallen silent and decrepit. There her mother and grandmother before her served the prince’s household, and, as custom demanded of young beauties, his pleasure.

In a series of flashbacks, Alia relives memories that she thought lay buried with her mother, Khedija, who fought a tenacious, but silent, battle to save her daughter from the fate that she so feared for her. Alia recalls how, raised in an atmosphere of refinement and decadence, she was drawn to music, learned to play the lute, and to express in song what she could not in speech.

The Silences of the Palace, an impressive first feature by Tunisian Moufida Tlatli, is the moving tale—a universal one—of a courageous individual who breaks through one ring of cultural and physical walls to find another beyond it, against which the battle must still be waged for freedom.

— Nicole Guillemet

Screening Details

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