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27 October 2018

Interview/Entretien with/avec Lamia Belkaied-Guiga - General Delegate/Déléguée Générale des JCC (Carthage Festival) by/par Bassirou Niang

Interview with Lamia Belkaied-Guiga - General Delegate of the JCC by Bassirou Niang. Africiné Magazine, Dakar pour Images Francophones
Image : Lamia Belkaied-Guiga. Crédit : DR
Translation from French by Beti Ellerson

Français ci-après

Lamia Belkaied-Guiga, General Delegate of the JCC, academic and film critic, in this interview outlines the main features that will punctuate the 2018 edition.

Bassirou Niang, Africiné Magazine: The JCC is one of the best-organized festivals of the African continent and the Arab world thanks to its well-known organizational abilities. Tell us a little bit about the team that reinforces its recognised reputation.

Lamia Belkaied-Guiga: The goal since the creation of the JCC in 1966 is to support Arab and African cinema and filmmakers. It is the dean of the festivals of the African continent [except the Kélibia festival, Tunisia, ed Africiné], a solid festival that has discovered the greatest Arab and African filmmakers (Souleymane Cissé, Sembene Ousmane, Youssef Chahine, Idrissa Ouedraogo, Djibril Diop Mambéty [Silver Tanit 1970, with Badou Boy, ed Africiné], ...

Carthage is the only festival that creates this link between Arab culture of the Maghreb, the Near East and Africa. The Carthage Festival is a unique phenomenon where film enthusiasts are present at all screenings. The JCC has always encouraged auteur cinema and independent filmmakers. It is a truly activist festival that has always helped filmmakers to make films and to distribute them. This festival has never missed its rendezvous (biennial initially, then annual). This special festival is a launching pad for films and directors, down-to-earth yet promotes quality films internationally. It is a festival of the South certainly but also tri-continental, reaching out to the cinemas that resemble us (Latin America, and the networks of the professionals of the South).

The JCC is a public festival and popular with film enthusiasts. In 2017, there were more than 2 million people around the capital throughout the 10-day duration of the festival. With tens of thousands of film enthusiasts who are increasingly younger, we are obliged to respond to the interests of the youth. The strength of the JCC is its audience: whatever the direction the festival takes, it will continue. We have a unique audience: supportive, informed and demanding.

The JCC is an essential African and world cinema meeting place. Could you tell us the rules and regulations for participation? 

The films are selected according to the rules of the JCC. We have assumed a return to fundamentals: to really defend Arab and African cinematic creativity, to promote independent films and small-scale structures, to have an African presence in terms of film and cinematic presence - industry and institutions (francophone and lusophone) - and increasingly important, supporting young filmmakers and new cinematic experiences (genre films, etc.).

For this 2018 edition, what are the selected themes and how many applications have you received for the feature film, short film and first film competitions?

In the official selection, we selected 65 films (long and short). For the long, we bring together 6 world premiers, 15 Arab premiers and 13 African premiers. In the Official Competition there are 44 films; 24 feature films (including 13 fictions, of which 4 are African, and 11 documentaries including 4 African) and 20 short films composed of 12 fictions and 8 documentaries. Regarding the feature films, 7 are first (and therefore will compete in the Tanit for the First Film. A third of the directors in competition are women, there are 14. Moreover, 19 countries are represented: 9 of the Arab-Berber world (Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Tunisian, Syria, Jordan) and 10 from sub-Saharan Africa (Cameroon, Senegal, Republic of Congo, South Africa, Madagascar, Benin, Kenya, Senegal, Chad, Rwanda).

The tributes will be to whom?

Tributes will be paid to Najoua Slama (Tunisia), Youssef Chahine (Egypt), Taieb Louhichi (Tunisia), Attiat Abnoudi (Egypt), Jamil Rateb, Idrissa Ouedraogo.

Senegal is one of the two countries chosen as guests of honour. Why this choice?

The purpose of this focus is to create bridges to the public. For Senegal, the objective is for Africa to be more present in the streets of Tunis with the invitation and the presence of an official delegation of Senegal with 30 people including filmmakers, producers, stakeholders in cinema, journalists…

Senegal is a country illustrative of a real African dynamic. There are more and more films, movie theatres, and the circulation of documentary and fiction works. Senegal is also a country with a cinema culture, it has collaborated with the JCC for more than 50 years (Ousmane Sembene was a co-founder of the JCC, he won the first Tanit award of the Carthage Festival. This focus also provides an opportunity to welcome a few more award-winning African directors at the JCC.

What will be the highlights of the guest countries of honour, especially Senegal? And how many films will it country present?

There will be a special evening in the presence of the officials of both countries and all the guests of the JCC: businesspersons, directors, etc ... In terms of the films, we selected Lamb by Paulin Soumanou Vieyra, The Little Girl who Sold the Sun by Djibril Diop Mambety, A Place on the Plane by Khadidiatou Sow and Goom Bi (The Wound) by Moly Kane, for the short films.

Camp de Thiaroye by Sembene Ousmane, The Pirogue by Moussa Toure, Ndeysaan (The Price of Forgiveness) by Mansour Sora Wade, Madame Brouette by Moussa Absa Sene, Tey by Alain Gomis, Fad'jal by Safi Faye, Touki Bouki by Djibril Diop Mambéty, Karmen Gei by Joseph Gai Ramaka and Congo, a Doctor to Save Women by Angèle Diabang, are the 9 feature films from the Senegal focus.

Will there be any organizational innovations for the 2018 edition (programming, meetings-debates)?

The professional side has been strengthened. We have invited many producers and distributors within the framework of Carthage Pro (Chabaka, Takmil, master classes pros, forum, panels). Chabaka is for projects in development, for which a prize is awarded as well as development grants to enable Arab and African projects to better execute their tasks. Takmil is dedicated to projects at the finishing stage, this professional section is beginning to show results: several films financed by Takmil made it to the major festivals. Carthage Talks is a forum to discuss topics relative to the cinema industry with Arab and African professionals as well as guests from around the world (distributors, international sellers ...).

There are 3 master classes this year: one on film criticism, one on film music, and one that will be presented by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun.

The JCC provides intensive work on the film industry. The goal is to create a kind of Arab and African professional platform that will allow people in cinema to circulate and excel around the world.

Regarding entertainment, what are the names of the artists already selected? Will there be Africans among them?

The stars are the directors, the actors of the films: The JCC is not really a festival of glitter and glamour. It's a festival of the public and of cinema-lovers above all else.

In the retrospective are there plans for the screening of restored copies of films, as was the case with the seductive Wanderers of the Desert by Nacer Khemir?

Presently, we are proud of the creation of the Tunisian Cinematheque which has begun to do this work. Nacer's film has just been screened in this context. We have a whole retrospective program with the Tunisian film library. (Chahine, Abnoudi ..., programming of the award-winning films in Carthage ...).

Have you thought about translation on behalf of French-speaking journalists who, sometimes during the post-projection period, end up with English-speaking directors, filmmakers and Arab actors?

For the press conference and the professional meetings: yes.

What segment will be reserved for film criticism or at least for film critics?

We have two parallel juries of the critics: FACC / Africiné Magazine (Paulin Vieyra Prize) and FIPRESCI (Fipresci Prize). We have invited at least 60 journalists and critics and are offering a master class on film criticism.


Entretien avec Lamia GUIGA BELKAIED, Déléguée Générale des JCC
Propos recueillis par Bassirou NIANG
Africiné Magazine, Dakar
pour Images Francophones
Image : Lamia Belkaied-Guiga, Déléguée Générale des JCC 2018
Crédit : DR

Les JCC sont, on s'en doute, sur le continent africain, le rendez-vous cinématographique le plus fiable, le mieux organisé et de surcroît très à cheval sur la qualité des productions en sélection. Une sorte de fil tendu auquel sont accrochées les cultures des sociétés arabes et africaines. Mais aussi la sulfureuse sensibilité d'un public de cinéphiles vaincus par la passion cinéma. Mme Lamia BELKAIED-GUIGA, Déléguée Générale des JCC, Universitaire et Critique de Cinéma, revient avec nous, dans cet entretien, sur les grandes lignes qui vont rythmer l'édition 2018. Lire l'entretien avec Lamia GUIGA BELKAIED par Bassirou NIANG

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