The opening of the Cinémathèque Tunisienne was made official on November 7th in Tunis, during the 28th Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage (JCC).
Last June, director and documentary artist Hichem Ben Ammar (J’en ai vu des étoiles, 2006 ; Un conte de faits, 2010) was appointed by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs to complete the project and become the film institute’s artistic director when it open on March 20th 2018 at the Cité de la Culture. Until then, the Cinémathèque will be run by the National Library of Tunisia.
At a press conference during the 28th JCC, Hichem Ben Ammar explained that the Cinémathèque will “work on the appropriation of memory, […] collecting, cataloguing and preserving films, restoring and digitizing heritage works, developing and launching a film database, celebrating the 7th art and promoting cinema culture.”
Mohamed Challouf, Hichem Ben Ammar’s adviser, added that a lot of work would be done on “image education”: “Any self-respecting film library works a lot with children, to help them understand the images they see and become tomorrow’s film-buffs.”
In preparation for the past year, the Cinémathèque Tunisienne will be attached to the Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image (CNCI). Preserving and processing the films will be supported by the National Library of Tunisia – but not only Tunisian films, since partnerships are already being discussed with cinémathèques and archives in Burkina Faso, Portugal, Belgium and Guinea.
During the Journées Cinématographiques an agreement to cooperate on cinema films was signed by the CNCI and the Centre Algérien de Dévéloppement du Cinéma (CADC). Among other things, the contract specifically mentions increasing interchange between Tunisian and Algerian cinémathèques.
In 1958 a Tunisian cinémathèque was created by Sophie El Goulli and Henri Langlois. It closed in 1968 through lack of finance and legislation.
Sources: Maghreb Emergent, APS, Tourismag, Huffpost Maghreb