Sharjah International Children's Film Festival Begins With Splendor
When the first Sharjah International Film Festival launched five years ago with a simple objective to encourage Emirati film makers to make films for children, the submissions were zero. Now, five years later, with the opening of the fifth edition of the Film Festival on Sunday, it garnered more than 500 submissions in total.
Inaugurated by Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation and organised by FUNN, Sharjah Media Arts for Youth and Children, SICFF 2017 holds for a six-day extravaganza of movies, creative workshops, and appearances by celebrated industry professionals.
"What gave me the passion for cinema was seeing a film of a young girl playing. I realised that her body movement was the language of beauty and nature. We need this language to achieve peace all over the world and that is what the festival is trying to achieve under the directives of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. To meet this goal we established a committee of 19 members, including film experts, critics and children, to select the right films to screen during the festival, films that will deliver a message of love and creativity," said Sheikha Jawaher Bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, Director of FUNN and Director of SICFF.
Her highness wanted a film festival with movies that were about children for children. She believes this is the best way to educate them about all things with the right messages since technology is rapidly increasing with the new generation.
The opening of the fifth edition of SCIFF started with a violin recital, a video of the festival organiser’s engagement with the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, a mime and dance sequence, and the intervention of a robot named Titan, who implored children to have a go at making their own movie.
Don’t Miss These Movies
Albion: The Enchanted Stallion
English, 120 mins
Set to be the opening film at SICFF this year, Castille Landon’s Albion: The Enchanted Stallion tells the story of Ivy, a teenage girl who is transported by a magical black stallion to the mystical world of Albion, where she discovers that she alone is the key to saving an entire race of people.
The Day my Father Became a Bush
Dutch, 90 mins
Based on a novel by Joke Van Leeuwen, this film tells the tale of 10-year-old Toda who is forced to live with her grandparents after her father is called away to war. The movie’s director, Nicole van Kilsdonk, won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2004 for her film Dining.
English, 85 mins
This Canadian film, by award-winning Canadian independent filmmaker and writer Ann Marie Fleming, follows a young Canadian poet who travels to Persia to perform in a festival. The poet, raised by her strict and protective Chinese grandparents, has never previously travelled on her own, and must learn to build bridges between the cultural and generational divide that she encounters, while finding her own voice through the magic of poetry.
At Eye Level
German, 97 mins
Michael is an orphan desperate to find his father. Tom is the father, and he isn’t even aware of Michael’s existence. When the two finally meet, Michael is shocked to discover that his father is actually a dwarf, and has to grapple with the internal conflict of desperately want to belong to a family, and the struggle he has to face in accepting his father’s differences.
Ballad from Tibet
Chinese, 84 mins
The premise is strange: a group of children from Tibet only have a little while to go before they completely lose their sight. They are in a race against time to see everything they want to see, and achieve their dreams and ambitions, before darkness takes over. Each one of the children has their own story to pursue and their own challenges to face.
The Little Vampire
English, 95 mins
Tony, a lonely boy, becomes best friends with a 13-year-old vampires named Rudolph. Rudolph’s clan is threatened by a notorious vampire hunter and Tony, also 13 and fascinated by old castles, graveyards and of course, vampires, wants to help. The two embark on an action and humor-packed battle against their adversaries.
SICFF 2017 will host a total of 70 directors and filmmakers from around the world, with the United States leading the programme with 45 films, followed by the UAE with 33 films and then France with 29 films.
Now that's a film festival for children indeed!