Sharjah Art Foundation’s annual film festival will bring together more than 30 films reflecting new voices in independent cinema.
Sharjah Art Foundation has announced the programme lineup for the fifth edition of Sharjah Film Platform (SFP), which is returning this October to spotlight independent cinema, documentary filmmaking and moving image works that demonstrate new approaches to film and art.
This year’s SFP5 consists of a diverse range of regional and international films, jury awards, talks and panel discussions by filmmakers and industry professionals as well as the SFP Industry Hub, an initiative that offers professional development and support to emerging filmmakers. For the first time, SFP5 will also include a special musical performance and a networking mixer to celebrate the festival and the filmmaking community.
The 10-day festival will run from October 21 to 30, spanning across three venues: Mirage City Cinema, Sharjah Institute of Theatrical Arts and Gallery 4 of Al Mureijah Art Spaces.
Organised by the foundation, SFP foregrounds recent cinematic achievements by international filmmakers and artists, noteworthy classics from around the region and worldwide, and experimental films that challenge the idea of what film practice is today. SFP’s film programme consists of entries received through an annual open call and by invitation, accommodating feature-length and short films in three categories: narrative, documentary and experimental.
The film screening programme will open with Payal Kapadia’s documentary A Night of Knowing Nothing (2021), which won the Golden Eye at the Cannes Film Festival (2021). The festival will conclude with Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria (2021), which won the Cannes Film Festival Jury Award (2021) and stars Tilda Swinton. Weerasethakul co-designed Mirage City Cinema (one of SFP5’s main venues) for Sharjah Biennial 11 in 2013.
This year, the festival’s Director in Focus section will honour the late film director Moufida Tlatli with the screening of three of her films: The Silence of the Palace (1994), The Season of Men (2000) and Nadia et Sarra (2004).
Through a collaborative initiative with US Mission to the UAE, SFP5 will also present Cherien Dabis’s Amreeka (2009) as one of the films in the programme.
In addition, this year’s festival will screen more than 25 films in narrative, documentary and experimental genres, which were shortlisted through an international open call. The programme will also include the world premiere of Mariam Alserkal and Maaria Sayed’s Unveiling Selma (2022), which received the Short Film Production Grant in 2021.
To celebrate the opening of the festival, Amal Waqar Trio, an all-female instrumental group comprised of Amal Waqar (oud), Lamam Kassem (percussion) and Rachelle Ghanem (bass), will perform on October 21 in the Al Mureijah courtyard. A networking mixer with live DJ sets will take place on October 29 at Courtyard C, Al Mureijah Art Spaces.
SFP5’s series of in-person talks, panel discussions and conversations, titled Alt Lens: Hi(stories) and Voices from the Borderline, will take place on 22, 23 and 28 October 2022 in Gallery 4, Al Mureijah Art Spaces. Panellists will include Darine Hotait (Filmmaker), Ulysses Jenkins (Video artist), Herve Cohen (Filmmaker) and Scandar Copti (Filmmaker) among others. This will be held in partnership with the US Mission to the UAE and the Division of Arts and Humanities at NYU Abu Dhabi, as part of American Film Week.
Created to inspire film industry professionals, SFP Industry Hub enables the development of the work of filmmakers by connecting them with film industry professionals. This year, it consists of the 4th edition of the Pitching Forum, an open-call feature scriptwriting competition, offering one scriptwriter based in the UAE an opportunity to win 200,000 AED to turn their Arabic language feature-length script into a film; the Script Lab, a professional scriptwriting course; and the latest addition, The Film Circulation Initiative, in partnership with the Network of Alternative Arab Screens (NAAS), which enables the circulation of short and feature-length films through NAAS’s platform and network. The Pitching Forum is supported by Sharjah Media City (Shams).