On Monday, the Tunisian short film “I Bit My Tongue” was screened at Cairo International Film Festival. Directed by Nina Khada, the film raises questions on the crisis of language and identity in North Africa countries.
The film starts with an anonymous and nameless girl who lived in France and suddenly she comes back to her homeland, Algeria.
She discovers that she lost her mother tongue, she understands what they say, but she can’t speak. She decides to ask the people in Tunisia about her language.
Although her questions were repeated the answers were shocking. The dialogue always starts with “I lost my mother language! How can I get it back?”.
Some answers revolve around the concept of communication. As the film aims to link the problems of immigration and its logical answers. Immigration could cause isolation so the best solution is communication.
Another shocking answer comes from some children, one of them told her, “try to start with the alphabet.” However, his friend told a shocking answer, “You lost your language? so, you lost your memory?”
Moreover, a man tells her another painful answer, “you lost your mother language, Do we have a mother language? we speak everyone’s language but we didn’t speak our native ones which we forgot”
This answer is reflected in her second question. She can’t remember if she is Tunisian or Algerian. She is suffering from this identity crisis. However, a kid answers “Tunisia, Algeria! It is North Africa!”
Through this short journey in the streets, she starts to catch some names, some words, as she starts to engage herself more to her national roots.
In a local concert, she enjoys listening to those folk songs and then her memories spark in her head, her hands start waving as the other girls do, she dances folk dance with the girls as she tells the audience the is on her way to get her language.
Finally, the title is very expressive. In the middle of the film, the protagonist of the film admits that she tries to spell the Arabic language, she bites her tongue.