Sheikha Jawaher Bint Abdullah Al Qasimi addresses the media on Monday.
Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent
The Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFF) 2019 will be held from Oct.13-18 under the theme ‘Films inspired by Books’ in celebration of Sharjah World Book Capital 2019.
FUNN, the Sharjah-based organisation that promotes media arts learning among children and youth, announced that the festival’s seventh edition will feature 132 films from 39 countries.
Unveiling the details at a press meet in Sharjah on Monday, Director of FUNN and SIFF Sheikha Jawaher Bint Abdullah Al Qasimi said that the audience will enjoy many special films, particularly those dedicated to youth, an age group we are targeting beginning with this edition.
She noted that the SIFF objectives were evolving with the times to ensure that the films it screened would remain topical and project the right messages. She underscored that it was essential for the new generation of filmmakers to be authentic and honest in choosing a subject they could identify with which would also resonate with audiences the world over.
Speaking about the theme of this year’s film festival, she said, “Many of the Arabic and international film masterpieces have been inspired by books. Films based on literary classics have the power to connect with audiences across generations. Books will always inspire all forms of arts.”
She added, “Sharjah earned the prestigious World Book Capital 2019 title, because it has worked hard for many decades to build generations of readers and is dedicated to fostering reading and books through educational, pedagogical, cultural and artistic programmes.”
The SIFF director announced a three-fold increase in the number of films submitted this year. A total of 132 films from 39 countries have been selected from a total of 1,454 submissions from 86 countries, across seven categories – Best Child- and Youth-made Film, Best Student-made Film, Best GCC Short Film, Best International Short Film, Best Animation Film, Best Documentary Film, and Best Feature Film.
She said that 12 of the films will have their international premiere at SIFF, while 75 films will make their Middle East debut. Seven films will have their GCC debut and 11 movies will have its UAE premieres.
Sheikha Jawaher also announced that a junior jury has been selected this year consisting of children and youth, who will evaluate films made by their peers, in addition to professional jurors who will evaluate the rest of the categories.
The professional jury comprises critics, filmmakers and actors including Omar Farouk, Basel Khayat, Julian Carrington, and Abdul Rahman Al Aqeel, as well as a selection of Emirati artists.
She also announced that a raffle draw with a Mini Cooper car as the grand prize would be a part of the festival.
Sheikha Jawaher revealed the addition of new screening venues in Dubai at Festival City on Sept.26 and 27, and at City Walk between Oct.3-12. In Sharjah, films will be screened at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre from Oct.14-18, and at Cinema Zero 6 between Sept.26 and Oct.17.
Screenings will also be held at Arabian Center, Dubai, from Oct.15-17, at Last Exit Al Khawaneej from Sept.28 to Oct.13 and at La Mer from Sept.30 to Oct.2.
Al Qasimi noted that SIFF has lined up a series of panel discussions and workshops on topics covering the film industry, photography suitable for all age groups. In addition, youth can look forward to a number of workshops, events and activities dedicated to them during the festival.
Chairman of Sharjah Media City (Shams) Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa said that the film festival is yet another significant cultural achievement. “It is part of our vibrant yearlong Sharjah World Book Capital 2019 celebrations. Honouring this global achievement, SIFF this year is gearing up to highlight the key role of books in nurturing arts, especially cinema, to our young festival attendees,” he said.
Emirati actor-director Abdullah Al Junaibi said that children and youth are lucky to enjoy all this support and care.
“We did not have a festival like this. There were no workshops or sessions that introduced us to new technology, or taught us about production and direction. We had no one to screen films for us, or explain the technique behind them or analyse their artistic worth. You must utilise this golden opportunity,” he said.
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