The inaugural edition of the Carthage Film Festival was held in 1966. The festival was conceived by Tunisian filmmaker and film critic Tahar Cheriaa and supported by the Tunisian Minister of Culture Chedli Klibi who also served as the mayor of Carthage at the time.
From 1983 to 2014, the Carthage Film Festival was held biennially, alternating with the Carthage Theater Festival (Journées Théâtrales de Carthage). It became an annual event in 2014. The festival is produced and managed by a directing committee with the help of film industry professionals.
The main goals of the festival are to facilitate the development of the sub-Saharan African and Arab cinema and to stimulate the dialogue between the southern Mediterranean and the northern Mediterranean. It is designed to become a meeting place for filmmakers and moviegoers from all over Tunisia and abroad.
The official program of the Carthage Film Festival is divided into two main sections: the official selection (feature film competition, short film competition, documentary competition, first film competition, special competition Carthage Ciné Promesse) and parallel sections (Tunisian cinema, world cinema, New Territories, etc.). Besides, the program features special events for industry professionals such as the Takmil workshop and the Producers Network conference.
The festival’s main prize is called Tanit. It was named after a Punic and Phoenician goddess that was venerated as the chief deity of Carthage alongside her consort Baal Hammon. The festival jury awards the Golden Tanit, Silver Tanit and Bronze Tanit to the best Arab and African films chosen from the official selection. Along with the main award, special prizes are awarded as well.
Many Arab and African filmmakers became the Carthage Film Festival laureates before being recognized elsewhere. They include Ousmane Sembène (Senegal), Youssef Chahine (Egypt), Souleymane Cissé (Mali), Michel Khleifi (Palestine/Belgium), Nouri Bouzid (Tunis), Férid Boughedir (Tunis), Moufida Tlatli (Tunis), Mohammad Malas (Syria) and Merzak Allouache (Algeria).