FUNN, the Sharjah-based foundation dedicated to promoting media arts for and among children and youth in the UAE, has announced that the jury of the 3rd edition of the Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival (SICFF) is challenged by the large number and impressive quality of many of the submissions in the process of judging and shortlisting the films nominated for the SICFF awards.
Held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, the six-day festival, which will take place at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre from October 18th to 23rd, will mainly focus on childhood issues from human, life and social aspects.
The festival, which is the first-of-its-kind in the region, aims to improve children’s and teens’ understanding of the movie industry and promote their awareness of the techniques that take place behind the silver screen, while unlocking and nurturing their creativity.
The SICFF also strives to motivate local filmmakers to produce films that discuss issues of interest to children and youth in the UAE, as well as to encourage Arab and international filmmakers to focus on children’s rights issues.
Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, Director of FUNN and of the SICFF, said: “Through the festival, we are striving to focus on issues and topics of interest to children in the region and world, while at the same time make cinema audiences aware of the children’s perspective of the current situation and challenges in war-torn countries and places of refuge.”
She added: “With only a few weeks to go before the opening of SICFF 2015, the jury, which comprises highly experienced and reputed industry figures, is racing against the clock to finish its task of evaluating the entries in a very careful and transparent manner. The winners will be announced during the opening ceremony of the SICFF on October 18th.”
The jury, which is composed of prominent names in the filmmaking industry, including Emirati writer and filmmaker Manal Bin Amro, UAE filmmaker Abdullah Hassan Ahmed, Dr Shahin Yazdani, Professor in the Applied Communications programme at Sharjah Women’s College, and Pakistani Shoaib Iqbal, Founder and Director of the Lahore International Children’s Film Festival, revealed the main challenges they faced during the judging process and shortlisting of the films nominated for the SICFF awards.
Speaking on the process of movie selection and shortlisting, Emirati writer and filmmaker Manal Bin Amro, said: “The main challenge was the large number of entries received from many countries and filmmakers, and also the multitude of excellent films in terms of production, content and cinematic creativity, which created a deep discussion to sincerely try to come up with unbiased and fair results based on a comprehensive cinematic vision that takes into consideration the general approach and categories of the competition."
Emirati filmmaker Abdullah Hassan Ahmed, who has over 12 years of experience in the cinema industry, said: "The jury was challenged by the large number of movies and impressive quality of many of the submissions that made the judging process somewhat complicated. We need to select the best movies from over 140 films ranging from short and long features, to documentaries and animation."
Reflecting on the selection process, Iranian-born independent filmmaker and producer Shahin Yazdani, said: “As jurors we are obviously looking for films which have absorbing narratives, are engaging in their cinematic articulation and unique in their tone, but given the nature of SICFF, we are equally concerned about how artfully a film can convey some strong moral values to our target audience.”
Highlighting one of the strong themes of this edition of the SICFF, Shahin Yazdani said: “One of the main themes of this year is children’s rights in view of the unfortunate condition of many children who are forced to live in war-torn areas, and experience the trauma of war, violence and loss. The recent mass immigration of thousands of displaced children together with their families to European countries, and their historical long march in the wake of a risk-laden and desperate journey across different countries and less-than-friendly seas in the hope to leave behind the miseries of war and move toward a better life that they are hoping to forge for themselves and their parents in their host countries, resonates with the life stories and conditions of the characters of a number of submissions this year."
He added: "One's hope is that the screening of these films during the 3rd edition of SICFF can offer children and their parents a basis for a better understanding of the pain and the suffering of children caught in the dreadful grips of war, and deepen their sense of empathy for their fellow human beings."