A scene from the film ‘Big Little Man.’
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
The Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFF) continues to serve as an exciting platform for young cinema enthusiasts, with the eighth edition announcing an impressive list of 40 foreign language masterpieces, which will be screened virtually from October 10 – 15.
FUNN, the Sharjah-based organisation that promotes media arts learning among children and youth, has asserted that through the SIFF 2021 films showcase, the festival will celebrate the cultural and linguistic diversity of filmmakers from around the world.
Representing nearly half of the total selection of more than 80 films at SIFF’s 2021 virtual edition, the foreign films across the five SIFF categories – feature films, student’s films, short films, international short films, documentaries and animations – category will feature cinematic work ranging from thrilling dramas and light-hearted comedies to those that highlight unique perspectives of childhood across cultures. The curated movies target children of all ages including from below 7 to the 14 + age group.
Six films, targeting children in the 8+ age group, feature in the Student’s Film category. These include the silent short film, Coffin, by Yuanqing Cai, Nathan Crabot, Houzhi Huang, Mikolaj Janiw, Mandimby Lebon, and Theo Tran Ngoc; La Bestia, a graduation short about a transformative train journey in Spanish; and the French, You Sold My Rollerskates?, a delightfully charming film that offers an insightful and emotive lesson on growing up and letting go.
At 23 minutes, A Trip to My Friend’s Home in the Indian language, Bengali, is the longest in the category. The two English language movies made by students include Mum’s Sweater and Goodbye Robin.
Featuring a mix of mandarin and English is Gina Tan’s Pencil that explores the sense of right and wrong when a friendship is put to the test; while Taiwanese filmmaker Diana Chao’s Big Little Man is a gripping drama of the sense of helplessness that propels a young boy to independence.
Other films in the category include Doubout – Standup in French by Pierre La Gall and Sarah Malléon; Timo’s Winter in Italian by Giulio Mastromauro; and Mommy’s Calf by Viktoria Runtsova from Russia. The chosen movies are for the 8+ and 10+ age groups.
A total of 19 animation films, predominantly in English, French, Spanish and Russian by filmmakers from across Argentina, New Zealand, France, Canada, Brazil, UK, USA, and Belgium, amongst other nations, will enthral young audiences in the 8+ category. Prominent names here include Carlos Algara and Catalina Serna’s My Brother Luca; Lynn Tomlinson’s The Elephant’s Song, portrayed in handcrafted animation that was created frame by frame with clay-on-glass and oil pastel animation.
A selection of films including Galen Fott’s Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug and Hannah Jones’ The Snail and the Whale target tiny tots up to age 7.
Targeting children in the age group 8+, foreign language movies in the Feature Films category include the Persian language Walnut, directed by Mohammadreza Haji Gholami, which narrates the story of a child who feels his hands are turning black because of a ‘sin’ he has committed.
Korean director KIM Jin-yu’s Bori sheds light on the life of a hearing child in a deaf family while Kings of Mulberry Street is an English comedy-drama by South African director Judy Naidoo.
SIFF 2021 has handpicked a selection of five European and Asian documentaries to both entertain and captivate and which are also aimed at generating a lasting interest in the genre amongst children in the 10+ to 14+ age groups.
Prominent films in this category include Norwegian filmmaker Solveig Melkeraaen’s School by the Sea which catches the rainbow of sadness and excitement, resistance and resilience, loss and growth, of a child adapting to change while in Italian director Paola Sorrentino’s Girls Talk About Football, six girls share their experiences playing a male-dominated sport.
For more information on the festival’s activities and its registration process, please visit the SIFF website www.siff.ae, or FUNN Instagram @sharjahiff.
The festival welcomes school students from across the UAE during the morning hours from 9am to 2pm, and is open to the public from 4pm to 9pm. SIFF 2022 hosts 8 inspiring talks led by artists, filmmakers and industry professionals and holds 34 workshops.
Talks offer insights into varied aspects of filmmaking from October 10-15 at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre, Sharjah
UAE-based Safa Azarayesh’s Childhood Trauma, that is competing in the GCC Short Films category, was scheduled to have its world premiere on Monday. The thought-provoking film will compel you to connect the dots between childhood trauma and adulthood.
Students across the UAE continue to relish the power of global cinema dedicated to young audiences, as the 8th annual Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFF 2021) continues to reach out to more schools across the nation.
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According to SAF, the curators are organising distinct but interconnected projects, representing a diverse and global range of perspectives across the spectrum of contemporary art.
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