The foundation has announced three grantees for its 2021 Short Film Production Grants: Maaria Sayed, Mariam Al Serkal, and Randa Maroufi.
Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) has announced the programme for the fourth edition of Sharjah Film Platform (SFP4).
The annual film festival supports emerging and established filmmakers in the MENASA region and beyond through film screenings and a public programme of talks and workshops, grants and professional development initiatives.
Taking place from November 19 to 27, 2021, SFP4 features in-cinema screenings of over 50 films, including world and regional premieres, culminating in the presentation of awards for submitted films in experimental, documentary and narrative categories. A selection of the films will also be available online.
In parallel with the screenings, SFP4 will present public talks and masterclasses with an international roster of filmmakers and practitioners, children’s workshops and the second iteration of Industry Hub, an initiative launched by SAF in 2020 to deepen its support of film production and distribution regionally and internationally. This year’s festival advisory committee consists of Richie Mehta (film director, writer), Maike Mia Höehne (film professor, Artistic Director of Kurzfilm Festival Hamburg) and Kerem Ayan (Director of Istanbul International Film Festival).
Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of SAF, said: “The annual Sharjah Film Platform plays an increasing critical role in the realisation of our commitment to supporting and presenting the work of emerging filmmakers from the UAE, the MENASA region and beyond. New programmes, such as the Industry Hub, introduced last year, have already helped projects by regional filmmakers into production and we continue to offer grants to support the making of new work. This year we introduce curated film programmes and a series of workshops and events for children. By bringing together local, regional and international filmmakers and audiences, the platform gives us an opportunity to celebrate experimentation and creativity and to explore critical topics such as representation, identity and belonging.”
The foundation also announced the winners of its 2021 Short Film Production Grant, which provides support for the creation of original short films. This year’s winners are Maaria Sayed and Mariam Al Serkal for Unveiling Selma (2022), a story about an Emirati woman rediscovering her womanhood; Randa Maroufi for L’mina (2022), an imaginative depiction of a former mining town in Morocco; and Janus Victoria for The Myth of Manila (2021), which documents the plight of a reporter in pandemic-afflicted Manila and will premiere this year during SFP4.
The 2021 film programme opens with the screening of two feature films supported by the foundation’s Short Film Production Grant: The Myth of Manila (2021) by 2021 winner Janus Victoria and Notes for a film about Gilgamesh (2022), a work in production by 2020 winners Pelin Tan and Anton Vidokle.
This year’s festival also includes two curated programmes: ‘Director in Focus’ highlighting the work of award-winning Palestinian director Michel Khleifi, whose films portray the lives of Palestinians from a social and political standpoint under Israeli occupation and Her Journey, presented in partnership with Istanbul Modern, exploring complex, women-centric stories in Turkish cinema through 10 feature-length, documentary and short films.
At the end of the festival, SAF will present awards to outstanding films in the experimental, documentary and narrative categories. The jury members include Bani Khoshnoudi (artist and filmmaker), Akosua Adoma Owusu (filmmaker), Talal Derki (filmmaker), Lamia Joreige (artist, filmmaker), Bettina Steinbrügge (Director, Kunstverein In Hamburg), Halil Altindere (artist, filmmaker), Mike Goodridge (film producer), Renata Santoro (Head of Programming, Giornate Degli Autori) and Hala Lotfy (filmmaker).
In addition to the film screenings, SFP4 features talks and masterclasses—free and open to the public—that examine topics relevant to contemporary filmmaking, including archival practices, the art of the film score and inclusivity and representation in the film industry. Session speakers include notable filmmakers and industry professionals from the region and beyond, including BAFTA award-winning documentary filmmaker Kim Longinotto (Divorce Iranian Style, Shooting the Mafia); Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, Co-Director of the Arsenal Institute for Film and Video Art, Berlin; two-time Academy Award and Emmy nominated documentary filmmaker James Longley (Angels Are Made of Light, Iraq in Fragments, Gaza Strip); visual artist Basma Al Sharif, who was awarded a Jury Prize at Sharjah Biennial 9 for We Began By Measuring Distance; Jihan El-Tahri, award-winning filmmaker and Director of the Berlin-based DOX BOX; two-time Academy Award winner and five-time Academy Award-nominated composer A. R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours); filmmaker Mohamed Al-Daradji whose multi-award-winning Son of Babylon screened at Sundance and the Berlin International Film Festival.
SAF will present the film screenings and talks programme in a hybrid format, with some featured events available online through the festival’s virtual platform, and all films screening in cinemas at venues across Sharjah, including the Sharjah Institute of Theatrical Arts and the open-air Mirage City Cinema in Al Mureijah Square. The foundation’s Collections Building will host workshops designed to give children hands-on experience with filmmaking essentials while an accompanying film will screen at the Flying Saucer building in Dasman.
Returning to SFP for the second year is the Industry Hub, a programme that offers filmmakers opportunities to develop their projects, receive production funding and secure vital distribution support for completed films. The Industry Hub comprises the Pitching Forum, an open call competition for feature-length screenplays; the Script Lab, a professional scriptwriting course; and the Virtual Film Distribution Market, a platform dedicated to supporting regional and international film distribution for short and feature-length films across genres. The 2021 Industry Hub is supported by SFP4 industry partner Sharjah Media City (Shams).