As a fly drawn to the flame
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As a fly drawn to the flame


‘I don’t especially long to see America or Australia, but Africa – I can’t explain it myself – perhaps out of instinct, as a fly drawn to the flame,’ wrote Alexandrine Tinne in 1860. What inspired a rich young woman, part of high society in 19th century The Hague, to travel as if possessed, as a fly drawn to the flame, to Africa? What is that instinct?

Alexandrine Tinne (1835-1869) was someone who lived on the edge. She had the courage to choose for herself. After her mother and her staff died leaving her alone in Egypt, she decided never to return to The Hague. She would continue travelling. Her undertakings became more and more dangerous. She was warned of the risks she faced but no one could hold her back. Her instinct dominated!

The film ‘As a fly drawn to the flame’ is made from the perspective of one who stayed at home, and who, having read Alexandrine’s letters, envisions what has happened. Photography has dictated the form of the film: Alexandrine Tinne was one of the first women to make use of the new medium, and more importantly, it was during the time of her travels that the Orient was first photographed in order to show true images to those back home in Europe. It is a 21st century journey of discovery through the archives where the 19th century photos lie in storage. A film in which ‘the adventure’ in between the lines becomes visible.


language: Dutch/English subtitles
running time: 62 minutes
première: International Film Festival Rotterdam 2007
director: BarBara Hanlo
scenario: BarBara Hanlo
production: PEP
sales: PEP / Eye Filmmuseum Amsterdam
camera: BarBara Hanlo
editor: Jan Wouter van Reijen
sound: BarBara Hanlo/Frank van der Weij
cast: Karim Traïdia
festivals and screenings: International Filmfestival Rotterdam, The Netherlands 2007 / Dutch Film Festival Utrecht, The Netherlands 2007 / Calabria Filmfestival Consenza, Italië 2007/ Filmtheater Rialto Amsterdam, The netherlands 2008 / Instituut Néerlandais Paris, France 2008/ Netherlands-Flemish Institute In Cairo, Egypt 2009 / Filmmuseum Amsterdam, International Women's Day 2010 / Pulchri Studio' Den Haag 2012

Online streming: IFFR Unleashed

Rialto Podium

'I interview director BarBara Hanlo on Saturday 19 January, following the screening of her film As a fly to the flame (62 min.), In film theater Rialto in Amsterdam. 16.00 hours.
I have already seen the film, and it is a small wonder that someone can make something so beautiful. I didn't know Barbara Hanlo as an artist yet, but I look forward to meeting her. If you can see this movie anywhere (who knows, maybe on TV), DON'T MISS HIM.'

Hanneke Groenteman (website January 2008)