Hopes for quality programming in Tunisia’s 2021 Carthage festival

Official FIC events will take place from July 11-August 17, 2021. They will include theatre and dance shows and musicals from Tunisia and around the world, as well as a special programme for children.
Tuesday 16/02/2021
Chinese dancers perform during the opening of the 54th session of the International Carthage Festival at the Roman theatre of Carthage on August 11, 2018 in Tunis. (AFP)
Chinese dancers perform during the opening of the 54th session of the International Carthage Festival at the Roman theatre of Carthage on August 11, 2018 in Tunis. (AFP)

TUNIS - Tunisia is optimistic that its annual Carthage International Festival (FIC), cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will live up to expectations in 2021.

FIC Artistic Director Imed Alibi said this year’s event will feature high quality productions with a new visual approach, showcasing the country’s artistic talent and reaching a broader global audience. Digital archives of the festival, which began in 1964, will also be created in order to make the event available to researchers, artists, impresarios and the general public.

Alibi is passionate about FIC remaining a hub for innovative artistic productions and said it should not compromise its reputation by including “commercial” content.

“The role of the artistic director is not to offer ‘leisure’ shows, but to ensure a certain quality of artistic culture far from commercial shows devoid of any artistic taste,” Alibi said.

Among the Tunisian artists scheduled to perform are popular music icons Hedi Habbouba and Nasreddine Chebli ( composer of “Fellaga,” holder of the bronze Tanit of the Carthage Festival of Music 2016). Nebiha Karawli will also treat viewers to a “Bahr Al-Sufiya” show.

A new live show titled “Diwan Erramel,” produced with the Tataouine Centre for Dramatic and Scenic Arts, based on a concept by Ali Yahyaoui and directed by Lassaad Ben Abdallah will also be held.

Several keynote performances will also take place leading up to the festival, including a concert by the Luigi Cherubini Symphony Orchestra of the Florence Conservatory in the Roman Amphitheatre of Carthage on May 21 and a concert by Portugues Fado singer Sara Correi on May 22 at the Chedli Klibi City of Culture.

While the FIC is not yet recognised as one of the top international festivals in the field, Alibi is hopeful it can secure a broader global reach due to a new agreement that allows for virtual visits to art and cultural sites and high definition art viewing.

The agreement, recently inked with online service Google Art & Culture, will further position Tunisia as a cultural and touristic hub as it looks to recover from a drop in tourism due to the pandemic.

“”We must send a strong message to the world so that Tunisia will become a popular cultural and tourist destination,” he stressed.

Official FIC events will take place from July 11-August 17, 2021. They will include theatre and dance shows and musicals from Tunisia and around the world, as well as a special programme for children.

A caravan will also tour across several regions of the country in order to make the performances as accessible as possible to those living in more rural areas.