The 6-day cultural festival will also host 17 informative and educational workshops for children.
More than 80 narratives of childhood, ranging from animation and shorts to features and documentaries from the region and around the world, will be screened at the upcoming eighth edition of the Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFF), scheduled to be held from October 10 – 15.
FUNN, the Sharjah-based organisation that promotes media arts learning among children and youth, has announced that the 2021 edition of SIFF will showcase an array of genres that combine the best of audio-visual storytelling and entertainment, and which reflect a rich diversity of voices.
A great selection of exciting and innovative films from 38 countries will be up for viewing at SIFF 2021, which takes a fully virtual route this year.
Held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA), and themed, ‘Think Film’, the festival also presents a strong and diverse programming agenda encompassing 48 film premieres, 30 workshops in both Arabic and English, 7 panel discussions, awards in 7 categories, and more for the young audience.
SIFF 2021, which celebrates cinema from around the world, received a total of 4,284 submissions across seven categories for the years 2020 and 2021. Of the more than 80 movies chosen for screening, 31 are animations; 9 are child and youth-made films; 7 are documentaries; and 8 are feature films. In addition, 13 films each fall under the categories of student and international short films, while 6 are short films from the GCC.
As part of its carefully crafted programming, SIFF 2021 will host the premiere of a selection of 48 films by young and emerging passionate storytellers which comprises 4 films from the UAE, 3 from the GCC, 35 from the Middle East, and 6 films representing the unique vision of global filmmakers.
The 6-day cultural festival will also host 17 informative and educational workshops for children that touch upon the essentials of panorama and abstract photography, stop motion animation, and animated cartoon sketching. Youth in the UAE and beyond can look forward to 13 workshops that focus on the art of filmmaking, storytelling, and specialised photography, amongst others.
The festival will organise a series of engaging panel discussions that will bring together film-making specialists from the Arab world and beyond. During the sessions, the experts will highlight emerging opportunities in the field that new generations of talented young people can explore and pursue.
Expert jury selected to lead the SIFF awards
On the SIFF jury this year are 13 acclaimed national, regional and international filmmakers, who will be selecting winners from 7 categories. The jurors comprise filmmakers in animation, feature films, and documentaries, and actors and academics. The festival winners will be announced during the closing ceremony on October 15.
Sheikha Jawaher Bint Abdullah Al Qasimi
Speaking about the highlights of the eagerly anticipated film festival, Sheikha Jawaher Bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, Director of FUNN and SIFF, said: “As in our past editions, the 8th edition of SIFF promises to bring together some of the most unique and engaging filmmaking from across the UAE and around the world to our diverse audiences. Educating and providing the tools necessary to develop a promising generation of creative young moviemakers and media arts specialists are at the heart of SIFF’s programming agenda. Accordingly, workshops and discussions led by eminent professionals in the industry from across cultures will nurture the creative and filmmaking skills of young talent and enhance their potential.”
She added: "Thanks to the directives of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and the continuous support of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA), we have reached lovers of cinema and new media arts as well as film and TV professionals from different countries, and we succeeded in forming a lasting friendship with them.”
For more information on the festival activities and the registrations process, please visit the SIFF website www.siff.ae, or FUNN Instagram @sharjahiff.
SIFF’s vast repository of high-quality content spanning series, films, cartoons, songs, stories, and educational videos, will be available free-of-charge on MENA Mobile’s Bustan app.
Festival organiser FUNN has confirmed that this edition will offer young cinema enthusiasts a unique opportunity to interact with top Arab and international actors and filmmakers.
Despite the many challenges for those engaged in the children’s film industry, including the lack of online access to all children during the current circumstances, “the future for children’s cinema remains very bright,” said Firdoze Bulbulia of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Film Festival in South Africa.
Scheduled to be held from Oct.11-16, SIFF is one of the most anticipated cultural events organised by Sharjah and is the first film festival in the UAE and the Arab region to celebrate children’s and youth cinema.
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