As the pioneer of female Tunisian filmmakers, Selma Baccar has first and foremost also answered back to men’s representations of women in her own films. From The Awakening (1966) to Fatma 75 (1975), The Dance of Fire (1995) to Flower of Oblivion (2006), the historical detail, contemporary relevance and concern with women in a much wider context have gained her the reputation of the “grande dame” of Tunisian cinema: a feminist activist. Selma Baccar: “As an activist for women’s rights, I have always felt that women are the cornerstone of society in general, and as a child of the age of protests in the 1960s I felt that I could be not only a spokesperson for the Tunisian woman but also an informer and critic of the contemporary atmosphere in Tunisia.”
I try to use a term operational images. This goes back to Roland Barthes in Mythologies, where he says that a non-metaphoric language, an operational language, would be the one that a woodpecker uses: it’s speaking with a tree and not about a tree.