Dignitaries attends the first day of the Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth in Sharjah.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA), a 6-day fun-filled creativity extravaganza at the Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFF) is inspiring, empowering and creating beautiful memories for families and residents in Sharjah and the UAE.
Sheikh Saud Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Digital Office, inaugurated the 9th edition of SIFF yesterday evening (Monday) in the presence of Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, Director of FUNN and SIFF; Syrian artist, songwriter, and voice actress Rasha Rizq; Emirati filmmaker Fadel Al Mheiri; and English actress Dixie Igrex delivered the keynote speeches at the SIFF 2022 opening.
SIFF 2022 opened with the Korean film, Kids are Fine, directed by Ji-Won Lee, which also marked its Middle East premiere, and celebrates 95 films from 43 countries. The festival also marks the debut of the Green Carpet event featuring three Middle East premieres at the Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre (JRCC).
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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. The festival also hosts jury members from 11 countries including 25 Junior Jurors.
The 2022 edition also hosted a distinguished group of guests on its opening night including popular Egyptian film stars Ashraf Zaki and Rogena, Omani actress Buthaina Al-Raisi, Syrian actor Abed Fahd, actor Ahmed Zaher and actress Laila Ahmed Zaher from Egypt, and Hoda Farouk, an Egyptian entrepreneur. Directors, filmmakers and cinema professionals from the regional and global film fraternity also attended the event, in addition to government officials and media representatives.
In her opening note, Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, said: “Cinema is a prestigious art that broadens viewers’ intellect, nurtures their imagination and elevates their critical and creative thinking. The festival is a global platform that promotes Sharjah and aligns with the directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, to uphold our authentic Emirati identity and Arab culture that call for tolerance, love and peace.”
Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi added that cinema leads children and youth into a magical world that captures their emotions, stimulates their imagination and raises their awareness on issues impacting humanity. She noted that the medium’s importance as an effective learning tool led SIFF to promote the role of cinema in inspiring the new generation of changemakers to drive positive tangible impact on their communities and countries. The festival is also raising awareness of the young generation on global humanitarian issues in line with Sharjah’s and UAE’s approach towards these matters of urgent concern.
Bolstering moral and family values
For her part, Rasha Rizq spoke about her experience as an artist and lauded the festival for its role in bolstering moral and family values. “Throughout my career, I have always believed that the arts play a critical role in supporting humanitarian causes. The arts are key pillars of policies that aim to elevate people and boost their artistic achievements and cultural legacy. It is also an essential tool in supporting environmental issues and raising awareness on the importance of protecting our planet.”
Source of inspiration
Emirati filmmaker Fadel Al Mheiri said: “Films have always stirred my curiosity and grabbed my attention, and I learnt that anything around me that ignites the imagination can be a source of inspiration.” He pointed out the crucial role played by novellas in instilling the passion of filmmaking amongst youth. He said the adaptability of popular short novels into scripts have encouraged the youth to invest time and efforts in transforming these narratives into films, enabling them to create a new source of sustainable income.
Participants with their poster at the Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth.
Power of cinema
Dixie Egerickx spoke about the power of cinema, underscoring that SIFF’s screenings comprise films that promote cultures and bridge the gap between global civilisations. Films are powerful tools that contribute to boosting relations and understanding between peoples, she said.
Kids Are Fine
South Korean director Ji-Won Lee whose film, Kids are Fine, marked the opening of SIFF 2022, said the film’s uniqueness stems from the fact that the entire cast of children had no prior experience in acting. He called on adults to take the responsibility of providing a nurturing environment to unleash the creativity and capacities of children to enable them to create rich and amazing films in the future.
SIFF 2022 has marked the debut of the Green Carpet event that will screen six films and offer an opportunity for the audience to engage with the filmmakers on discussions related to their creative works. Films screened at the Green Carpet event include Farha, The Neighborhood Storyteller, and Paper Flower at Al Jawaher Reception & Convention Centre, as well as The Secret Garden, Croissant, and The Electrical Life of Louis Wain at VOX Cinema Al Zahia in Sharjah.
95 films from 43 countries will be screened until October 15 at three locations: Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre, Sharjah; Vox Cinema in Al Zahia Mall, Sharjah and Mirdif City Centre, Dubai. These films will compete in 7 categories, including 12 films in the Child and Youth Made Films category, 16 in the Student Film category, 8 in the GCC Short Film category, 8 in the International Short Film category, 28 in the Animation Film category, 7 in the Documentary Film category, and 16 in the Feature Film category.
The jury members of 9th SIFF comprises filmmakers from 11 countries. On the panel of jurors for the Student Film category are Amal Al Duwaila, Nadia Rahman and Siona Vidakovic, while the GCC Short Film category features Heba Hamada, Buthaina Alraisi, and Hani Al Shaibani. The International Short Film category is being judged by Masoud Amralla, and Yasir Alyasiri; the Animation Film category by Sara Oulddaddah, Mariam Al Serkal, and Laurie Gordon; the Documentary Film category jurors are Ahmed Eldin, Waad Al Kateab, and Susan Mbogo, and the Feature Film category will be judged by Nawaf Al Janahi, and Aida Al-Hassani.
Participants stand with their film poster.
SIFF 2022 has selected 25 ‘Junior Jurors’ to evaluate the Best Child and Youth-made Film category. These promising jurors were participants of the four-phase 'Junior Jurors' training programme organised by FUNN during the summer to support and develop the capabilities of talented children and youth.
The 9th SIFF will see eight talks hosting film industry experts, including ‘Refugee Stories in Cinema’, ‘FUNN Programmes’, ‘Palestine: Forging connections through cinema’, ‘Why do we visit festivals’, ‘Distribution for Short Films – Who is Buying My Film?’, ‘How to train future filmmakers’, ‘How to support local and international talents’, and ‘Film Literacy’.
FUNN’s platform will offer 34 educational and entertaining workshops, including ‘Stop motion Animation’, ‘Basic Video’, ‘How to Learn Filmmaking by Watching Other Movies’, ‘Script Writing’, ‘Simple Steps to Film Directing’, ‘Post Production’, ‘Acting with Mahmoud Al Kattan’, ‘Film Budgeting’, and ‘Drama’.
In a step to consolidate SIFF’s role and give residents across Sharjah the opportunity to access its events, this year the festival will expand its reach to the Sharjah University Al Khor Branch on October 17 - 18, Al Thaid Cultural Center on October 20, Dibba Al Hisn Cultural Center on October 24 - 25, Al Madam Cultural & Sports Club on October 27, Kalba Cultural Center on October 31 and November 1, Al Hamriya Cultural & Sports Club on November 7, and Al Bataeh Cultural & Sports Club on November 9.
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.
Talks offer insights into varied aspects of filmmaking from October 10-15 at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre, Sharjah
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.
Noting the impact of hundreds of films, particularly animation, and workshops offered by SIFF to stimulate young imaginations, Masoud Amralla Al Ali said that the festival has been nurturing a deep love and understanding of cinematic arts in children and youth.
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