Home » SIFF to screen 132 films from 39 countries in UAE

SIFF to screen 132 films from 39 countries in UAE

FUNN, the Sharjah-based organisation that promotes media arts learning among children and youth, has announced the full schedule of the upcoming 7th edition of Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFF). The festival will be held under the theme ‘Films inspired by Books’ from October 13-18, 2019.

During a press conference held at Zero 6 Mall’s Cinemacity Imax, Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, Director of FUNN and SIFF, outlined the agenda, in the presence of actor and director, Abdullah Al Junaibi, and Dr. Khalid Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City (Shams). Sheikha Jawaher, commented, “The audience will enjoy many special films, particularly those dedicated to youth, an age group we are targeting beginning with this edition.”

Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, Director of FUNN and SIFF

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 edition, 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, and 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.

Dr. Khalid Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City (Shams)

The professional jurors comprise critics, filmmakers, and actors including Omar Farouk, Basel Khayat, Julian Carrington, and Abdul Rahman Al Aqeel, as well as a selection of Emirati artists. Sheikha Jawaher announced that a raffle draw with a Mini Cooper car as the grand prize would be a part of the festival.

Al Qasimi announced that 132 films from 39 countries were 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 12 of the films being screened would have their international premiere at SIFF, while 75 films will make their Middle East debut. Seven films will have their GCC debut and 11 their UAE premieres.

Sheikha Jawaher also revealed the addition of new screening venues in Dubai at Festival City on September 26 and 27, and at City Walk between October 3-12. In Sharjah, films will be screened at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre from October 14-18, and at Cinema Zero 6 between September 26 and October 17.

Emirati actor Abdullah Al Junaibi


Screenings will be also be held at Arabian Center, Dubai, from October 15-17; Last Exit Al Khawaneej from September 28 to October 13; and La Mer from September 30 to October 2.

Al Qasimi noted that SIFF had 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.

HE Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City (Shams), the Festival’s Gold Sponsor, said “The Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFF) 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.”

“We work in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, to build a vibrant community and create an environment where culture, arts, and innovation can thrive. This is why we were keen on supporting SIFF. We believe that FUNN’s projects are second to none in the way they promote the learning of media arts for children and youth. Sharjah Media City was established to empower youth, ignite their knowledge-based creativity and innovation, and through these key partnerships, we are able to further our efforts geared towards enriching Sharjah’s cultural legacy,” he added.

The Emirati actor and director, Abdullah Al Junaibi, added a message for children and youth “You are lucky to enjoy all this support and care. We did not have the same opportunities when I was the same age as you. 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. Please utilise this golden opportunity that we did not get.”

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