The CFF was created in 1966 by the Tunisian Ministry of Culture. It is a committee presided over by the Minister of Culture and is made up of a group of cinema professionals whose goal is to assure the organization.
The CFF, whose biannual festival is generally held in October, is the oldest film festival in the South still in existence. The official program generally comprises, in addition to the Official Competition and the Panoramic Section, premiers of Arab and African films, other sections, such as the International Section premiering recent high-quality artistic films, no matter where their origin, one section devoted to a Tribute to a national cinema or a renowned filmmaker, as well as a Video Competition for both feature length and short formats and Project Workshops intended to assist with the development of African and Arab film projects by grants for direction.
In keeping with dual Arab and African calling, this cinematographic rendez-vous reunites filmmakers, producers, critics, film fans from North and South in the interest of preserving the equilibrium between the sense of celebration and the demand for efficiency.
Forty years after its creation, it has been judged “globally positive”. In fact, filmmakers discovered by the CFF, for example Y. CHAHINE, S. CISSE, M. TLATLI, N. BOUZID, I. OUEDRAOGO to name a few, are today know abroad and certain of their works have since held a prominent place in the most important world film festivals.
The Carthage Film Festival
In 2006, the Carthage Film Festival celebrated its 40th anniversary, beating a record; that confirming it as the oldest cinema gathering in the Third World still in existence and which has been held every two years without interruption since its creation by the Tunisian Ministry of Culture in 1966.
Since then, Sembene Ousmane from Senegal (Grand Prize 1966), Youssef Chahine of Egypt (Grand Prize 1970), Souleymane Cissé of Mali (Grand Prize 1982), Palestinian Michel Khleifi (Grand Prize 1988), Tunisians Nouri Bouzid, Ferid Boughedir, and Moufida Tlatli (Grand Prize 1986, 1990, 1994), Syrian Mohamed Malass (Grand Prize 1992) and Algerian Merzak Allouache (Grand Prize 1996), all the great names of African and Arab cinema, have earned awards first at Carthage before being recognized elsewhere.
Contrary to other semi-worldwide, semi-touristic festivals without any real cinematographic stakes, the CFF at first glance seemed to be an activist for the cinematographic cause of African and Arab countries, tracing its two primary objectives:
It was at the CFF that the FEPACI (Pan-African Federation of Filmmakers) was created in 1970, and since then were also created the bases for South-South cinematographic cooperation. It was effective cooperation that began to show concrete results before being replaced in the 90s by North-South cooperation, which has made the African filmmaking industry very dependent on financial aid from the North.
- To promote a cinematic reflection of the cultural and social realities of the countries concerned, and to make it known on a global scale.
- To serve as a meeting place where filmmakers can cultivate the conditions for the economic development of their film industries, in markets almost totally dominated by foreign film distributors.
The symposiums of the last CFF (Cinemas of the South in the face of Globalization, Financing Cinema by Television, Cinema criticism in view of African and Arab Cinema) kept on building the reputation of a think tank of the festival. But it is especially the extraordinary support of the local public that has been the other great success of this festival.
Every two years, veritable human waves fill the center of Tunis giving it unequaled animation. The 40th anniversary celebration was at the same time an occasion to look back to the beginning through a number of retrospectives of the history of cinema and authors who have left their mark in filmmaking history and authors discovered at the festival, as well as a grand opening centered on all the filmmaking formats from Asia, Latin America and films from the South. This was all in the framework of worldwide promotion and defending the notion of cultural diversity, which was celebrated at Carthage from the point of view of the South.
The CFF again confirms that the proximity of Tunisia to Europe and its tradition as a place for dialog was predestined: an indispensible turntable on North-South and South-South cinematic cooperation.