Carthage Blows Its Fiftieth Candle

in 27th Carthage Film Festival

by Ossama Rezk

The Journees cinematographiques of Carthage, the oldest Arab and African festival (founded in 1966 and held every other year until 2014, when it turned into an annual event) blew its fiftieth candle this year, but it does not rely on its past. Its active management, headed by Brahim Letaief, decided that the 27th edition (28 October – 5 November, 2016) should care about the future and look towards tomorrow.

No big parties or fancy celebrations, but more work, youth and light.

After the big success in the decentralization of the previous editions, the Carthage Film Festival organized, for the third year in a row, JCC Cities, in partnership with the Cinema Department of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the Tunisian Federation of Film Societies (FTCC). To reach even more public and take the adventure further, participating cities throughout Tunisia went from twelve to sixteen.

For the second year in a row, the JCC visited jails – six this year – screening a few films from the competition (shorts and feature films), in the presence of actors and guests. This project was arranged in partnership with the World Organization against Torture.

To curb the disappearance of movie theaters in the country, the JCC aimed to promoters new spaces for film screenings. Last year, with the collaboration of students, teachers and faculty staff, Manouba University opened its lecture hall to screen films of the official competition.

For its 50th anniversary and true to its commitment to push boundaries, JCC went to more learning institutions. Five universities – Tunis, Nabeul, Tunis El Manar, Gafsa and Jendouba – joined Manouba with the mission to give students from the capital and internal regions, access, on their own turf, to new images, discoveries and emotions from Africa, the Arab World and elsewhere.

The Takmil workshop, meaning “finishing” in Arabic, is an extension and evolution of the “Project Workshop” that was created in 1992, which, thanks to the awarding of development grants, served, during 10 consecutive sessions, as support for many African and Arab talents for writing their scripts.

Initiated in 2014, Takmil aims to enable African and Arab filmmakers to expose their films while in the stage of post-production to the expertise of an international jury. During November the 1st 2nd and 3rd 2016, after the screening of selected working copies, each filmmaker defended his/her film during a discussion with the jury members. Takmil aims to contribute to the achievement of Arab and African films by allocating 7 post-production grants.

True to its innovative spirit, the Producers Network hosted, one more time, project holders who are coming to pitch their ideas, hoping to turn them into films. With this in mind, the Festival strived to create a space for meetings, exchanges and debates, to foster future collaborations between professionals, optimizing networking activities.

It offered the opportunity for feature films projects, documentary and drama, in the development stage to benefit from the expertise and support of producers, distributors and international funds, in a friendly environment.

October 31st and November 1st were dedicated to the Producer’s Network, and probably were the start of a new cinematographic adventure for all participants.

Over the years, the Carthage Film Festival has become a key cinematographic event, the place to be for Arab and African filmmakers.  This 27th edition was not an exception, forming a meaningful celebration of 50 years of its existence.

Decades of films for a festival that always spoke of its time, where the camera is a witness to History as well as current events. A festival where films show the concerns of authors and where they battle conventions. It is a festival that has grown, both in size and confidence, and continues to gain more freedom in each of its editions.

Edited by Yael Shuv