In the ninth edition of SIFF, 30 films will mark their Middle East debut this year, while 11 will have their premiere in the GCC region.
Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFF) will screen 95 films from 43 countries, led by the US, France, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea, focused on narratives shaping children’s lives.
As part of the ninth edition of the festival, which runs from October 10-15 at the Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre in Sharjah, several titles will premiere for the first time in the Middle East and feature universal stories about childhood, in animation, shorts, features and documentaries.
During a press conference held at Vox Cinema, Al Zahia Mall, Sharjah, SIFF announced the agenda of the international event held under the theme ‘Think Film’, which features a series of discussion panels and activities, including a Green Carpet event showcasing six select films.
The press event was attended by Sheikha Jawaher Bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, Director of FUNN and SIFF; Ghada Abdelkader, Senior VP, Crescent Enterprises; and Emirati filmmaker Hani Al Shaibani, in the presence of journalists and media representatives.
Sheikha Jawahar emphasised that SIFF’s continuous success plays a pivotal role in bolstering Sharjah’s status as a cradle for arts and creativity. She said that the ninth edition of the film festival translates the directives and vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to raise a new generation of young creatives, and benefits from the unwavering support of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs.
Announcing the details of the upcoming SIFF, Sheikha Jawaher said the festival will organise activities at Al Jawaher Reception & Convention Centre, Al Zahia City Centre, and Mirdif City Centre.
Sheikha Jawaher said 95 films will be competing in seven categories, including 12 films in the Child and Youth Made Films category, 16 in the Student Film category, eight in the GCC Short Film category, eight in the International Short Film category, 28 in the Animation Film category, seven in the Documentary Film category, and 16 in the Feature Film category.
The SIFF Director added that 30 films will mark their Middle East debut this year, while 11 will have their premiere in the GCC region.
The Director of FUNN and SIFF pointed out that festival visitors will have an opportunity to attend several discussion panels focused on the film industry and targeting youth and children. These include ‘Why do we visit festivals’, ‘Palestine: Forging connections through cinema’, and ‘Who’s Buying My Film?’. A number of educational and entertainment activities will also be held at the FUNN Port, including ‘Explore Studio’ where participants will learn filmmaking by watching other movies. At the ‘Experience Station’, children and youth can create their first film while an interactive session titled ‘A short film inspired by me’ will be held at the ‘Entertain Zone’.
Sheikha Jawaher announced at the press conference that the 2022 edition is hosting a distinguished group of guests and speakers, including actors Syrian singer-songwriter Rasha Rizk, English actress Dixie Igrex, Emirati director Fadel Al Mheiri, and Syrian journalist and filmmaker and SIFF juror, Waad Al-Kateab. In addition, SIFF will host a 19-member jury committee, which includes Omani actress Buthaina Alraesi, Emirati filmmaker Hani Al Shaibani, Kuwaiti writer Heba Hamada, Emirati director Nawaf Al Janahi, and Emirati writer Masoud Amralla.
For the first time in its history, SIFF will organise a Green Carpet event that brings together filmmakers with their audiences to discuss their creative works. Films screened at the Green Carpet event include The Secret Garden, Croissant, and The Electrical Life of Louis Wain at Vox Cinema Al Zahia, and Farha, The Neighborhood Storyteller, and Paper Flower at Al Jawaher Reception & Convention Centre.
In her keynote speech, Ghada Abdelkader, Senior VP of Crescent Enterprises, commented: “We believe in the leading role and positive impact of arts in shaping society, and are proud to support initiatives such as Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFF) which enables today’s youth to practice the arts and express their passion through this boundless medium.”
She added that such initiatives are an ideal platform to discover and identify local talent, support and nurture their potential, and enhance entrepreneurial and job opportunities within the creative field.
For his part, Emirati filmmaker Hani Shaibani said: “The powerful role of cinema in connecting on an emotional level and providing entertainment is clear, and its impact is unquestionable.”
He added: “Films are born from an idea that transforms into a vast and comprehensive world of its own. Filmmakers have given humanity an invaluable heritage and a legacy of works that have been entrenched in people’s minds throughout the ages.”
Hani Shaibani concluded: “As a member of the GCC short films category jury committee, I appreciate the efforts of SIFF to highlight youth’s cinematic capabilities. The festival and its awards have helped discover talents and supported their passions to produce vibrant works that both appeal to the public and receive the nomination of jury committees.”