Since February 2020, Tunisia, like the rest of the world, has been going through exceptional circumstances because of the Coronavirus pandemic. However, the current Carthage Film Festival’s direction considered it appropriate to dedicate this session to revisiting the festival’s memory as an essential component of the Tunisian, Arab and African immaterial cultural heritage, by taking the initiative to create for the first time an Archives and Documentation department with the mission of identifying, and exhuming documents to lift the veil of oblivion off them. It is thus necessary to collect, make an inventory, assemble, classify and provide them with the necessary restoration or digitalisation.
Our focus was first on the importance of archives as the pillars and collective memory of the festival. Since 1966, Carthage Film Festival has generated an abundance of reviews: articles, interviews, lectures, catalogues, brochures, regulations, photos, films… Because they are scattered everywhere, the search for such documents is no easy task. We are working to make them accessible.
Admittedly, it is a vast field of investigation with rich and multiple material, which constitutes a true cultural heritage crystallizing the history and memory of the most prestigious cinematic manifestation in the Arab- African region from the sixties to the present day. In order to accomplish this, the Archives and Documentation Department called on specialized graduates to ensure the collection and digitalization of these documents to safeguard them.
A long process that will not cease as long as the festival exists and especially by associating the National Archives, the National Library and the Documentation Centre to the task (as their main concern is documentation and archiving) in the aim of studying and exploring mechanisms of consultation and collaboration between each other.
This programme calls not only for high technical and financial resources, but also skilled implementers. Nonetheless, to date, we have been able to digitize some 5% of the archives because the prospection is far from complete: 33 catalogues, 700 videos, 3000 photos, 530 electronic articles, 4000 press articles, 35 magazines and projects.
This is especially true as the archives in question go beyond the exclusive field of the festival, reaching all filmic and critical production in Tunisia and the continent.
The preservation of such collective memory is more than necessary, it is even urgent, and has therefore been inaugurated under the best auspices. We now have to continue the work thanks to our combined efforts in order to guarantee the sustainability of filmmaking in our region.
Mme. Sayîda Bourguiba
Responsable documentation & archives