Carthage Film Festival

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Tahar Cheriaa, creator of the Carthage Film Festival

The Carthage Film Festival (Journées cinématographiques de Carthage, or JCC) is a film festival that takes place in Tunis. Created in 1966,[1] it is to date the oldest event of its kind still active in Africa. Initially biennial alternating with the Carthage Theatre Festival, it became annual in 2014. A directing committee chaired by the Tunisian Ministry of Culture joined together with professionals of the cinema industry is in charge of the organization.

The Carthage Film Festival has been designed as a film festival engaged in the cause of African and Arab countries and enhancing the South cinema in general.

The main prize awarded is the Golden Tanit named after the Phoenician goddess Tanit. Opening and closing ceremonies are held in the Municipal Theater of Tunis.


Conceived by filmmaker Tahar Cheriaa and officially launched in 1966 by the Tunisian Minister of Culture, Chedli Klibi, this event, the first of its kind in the Arab world, is primarily intended to highlight the sub-Saharan African and Arab cinema, creating bridges of dialogue between North and South and offering a meeting between filmmakers and moviegoers of all sides. Thus Klibi said:

We first hope a dialogue. A dialogue, frank, lucid, without ulterior motives. But we are sure that such a dialogue can only lead to a better mutual understanding between Africans and Europeans, among the southern Mediterranean and the Northern Mediterranean.

Many big names of African and Arab cinema received awards from Carthage before being recognized elsewhere, from the Senegalese Sembene Ousmane (Grand Prize 1966) through the Egyptian Youssef Chahine (Grand Prize 1970) and the Malian Souleymane Cissé (Grand Prize 1982), the Palestinian Michel Khleifi (Grand Prize 1988), Tunisians Nouri Bouzid, Ferid Boughedir, and Moufida Tlatli (Grand Prize 1986, 1990, 1994), the Syrian Mohammad Malas (Grand Prize 1992) to the Algerian Merzak Allouache (Grand Prize 1996).

The festival's social dimension is found in several Golden Tanit award-winning films, some sadly prophetic like Making Of (2006) by Nouri Bouzid, featuring Bahta, a 25-year-old unemployed and amateur break dancer recruited by extremists to commit a suicide attack.

It was at the Carthage Film Festival that FEPACI (Pan-African Federation of Filmmakers) was created in 1970, developing a foundation for South-South film cooperation.

The Conferences of the last sessions have emphasised the reputation of the event as a reservoir of ideas and gaining momentum, the Carthage Film festival has opened to the world and enriched its programming by hosting works from all backgrounds.

To better meet the expectations and needs of film professionals, the Carthage Film festival has expanded its scope of action with the introduction of various devices such as the Workshop Project, Master Class, and Producer's Network. Eminent personalities of the arts, writers, filmmakers, critics, have served as juries in various official competitions to award the prestigious Tanit. But the true constant of the Carthage Film Festival remains the adherence of an exceptional audience of loyal and passionate moviegoers. The festival is a real popular event which attracts crowds to theaters and creates in the city of Tunis a considerable animation. Rooted in its Arab and African specificity, this meeting of filmmakers, producers, critics, moviegoers North and South has manage to combine cinema, exchange and festive spirit.

Since the Tunisian Revolution of 2011, the Carthage Film Festival further confirms Tunisia's proximity to Europe and its tradition of dialogue predestines it to become an indispensable hub for North-South and South-South film cooperation.


The official program includes several sections: the "Official Competition" and the "Panorama section" that are open to Arab and African films, the "International section" which is open to recent movies of high artistic quality, a "Tribute section" and a "Workshop Projects" designed to encourage the development of Arab and African films projects by granting "help funds for scenario” and a competitive video section.

The 0fficial Selection The various sections of the Official Competition of the Carthage Film festival each present 12 films.

The official competition for feature films: This selection with three Tanit (Gold, Silver, Bronze) is the most visible part of the Carthage Film Festival and is the heart of the official selection. Twelve Arab and African films reflect the renewal of cinematographic expression and present original works singular in their aesthetic and their statements.

The official short film competition: As well as the competition dedicated to feature films, this selection allows to dedicate three Arab and African fiction films in short format (less than 30 minutes).

The documentary competition A Golden Tanit awards the best documentary among twelve Arab and African films. The Prize Tahar Cheriaa for a first work: The Golden Tanit "Tahar Cheriaa" awards the first work of a filmmaker presented in the official selection: official Competition, competition of the first Arab and African film.

Carthage Ciné-Foundation: This international selection of twelve school films embodies the diversity of young artists and announces the trends of the future world cinema. A film will be awarded by the international jury.

Parallel sections

New Territories

This program aims to be a window on recent suggested films, the most innovative and subversive, the most radical and marginal, in a word, on new aesthetic and political experiences, far from any commercial format, media or festival. It seeks to submit the continually renewed ability of cinema to house within it both the issues of its time, the questions of those who make it and their contemporaries as well as the shifting of its artistic,formal and technological expression.

Tribute Each edition pays tribute to a Tunisian filmmaker and several international filmmakers offering the public a retrospective of their films or debates meetings inspired by their career.

Carthage professional

Takmil The Takmil workshop, namely "finish" in Arabic, which is in its second edition, aims to allows African and Arab films in post-production phase to be evaluated by an international jury of cinema professionals. For three days, working copies are viewed by the jury in the presence of the filmmakers which films have been selected. Screenings will be followed by a discussion allowing each participant to defend his film and benefit from an expertise. The workshop Takmil also aims to be a platform offering visibility to young African and Arab filmmaking. Visibility that will result in particular by the screening of the winning films, an African and Arab premiere during the Carthage Film Festival session following their finishing.

Producers Network The Producers Network hosts Arab and African producers present at the Carthage Film Festival and allows international film professionals to benefit from a series of meetings and specific events designed to encourage international co-production and optimize networking. With a 48-hour program, the Producers Network offers real opportunities to meet with potential partners with financing, co-production, distribution needs...

The Carthage Film Festival in regions

Since the 2014 session, the Carthage Film Festival has moved between different Tunisian cities. In 2015 ten cities are hosting the festival: Jendouba, Sfax, Mahdia, Tataouine, Nabeul, Béja, Kef, Kairouan, Gafsa and Monastir. The films are divided into three main sections:

  • The films of the official selection: these films are screened in the evening during the festival period in each host city.
  • European films: In partnership with the Journées du Cinéma Européen, a selection of European films are screened daily in different cities.
  • In partnership with UNICEF two children's movies are screened in each city.


  1. ^ Lieve Spaas (2000). Francophone Film: A Struggle for Identity. Manchester University Press. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-7190-5861-5. 

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