The third edition of the Sharjah International Children's Film Festival (SICFF) which was held from October 13 to 23, 2015 came to an end yesterday at the Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre and Novo Cinemas. The festival was held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs.
There were 175 films from 20 countries shown during the festival that was organised by FUNN- the Sharjah-based foundation dedicated to promoting media arts among children and young people in the UAE. The jury members consisted of UAE film makers Manal bin Amro and Abdullah Hassan as well as Iranian-born independent filmmaker Shahin Yazdani and Shoaib Iqbal, founder & director of The Little Art, a non-profit arts education organisation that uses art to promote positive social values through innovative learning opportunities among children and young adults.
SICFF winners in six categories were awarded during the opening ceremony which was attended by media and film personalities from the UAE and from around the world. Special guests included British child actress Isobelle Molloy, UAE filmmaker Nayla Al Khajah as well as British actor Freddie Highmore, best known for his role as ‘Charlie' in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and American actress Rachel Paulsen who spoke to the guests via video conference.
In addition to the film screenings, several workshops and activities were held throughout the six-day festival giving visitors a memorable experience. The numbers of visitors to the festival, including school students, has already far exceeded last year's numbers and there are still 14 more days to go. Films will continue to screen in seven cities outside the Emirate of Sharjah: Al Dhaid, Khorfakkan, Dibba Al Hisn, Kalba, Al Madam, Al Hamriyah and Al Batayeh. The main screening locations were the Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre, Novo Cinema at Sahara Centre and outdoor venues such as the Sharjah Art Foundation, Al Qasba, and Al Majaz Waterfront.
This is the first time that school students from Abu Dhabi visited the festival. There was also a notable increase in the number of evening visitors.
Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, Director of FUNN and Director of SICFF, said that she was pleased with the results of the festival and hopes for even better participation next year. "I'm happy that there were many child-made films this year and an increase in the number of Emirati films but I'd definitely love to see more next year. The purpose of this festival is to encourage our local filmmakers and especially children to express themselves through their film projects. So this is a shout out to Emirati filmmakers and children: Start working on creative film projects, and bring your movies to us. The best ones will be shown during the Sharjah International Children's Film Festival in 2016. Next year, we would also like to see more children attending. We plan to further expand our programs to include college youth and we plan to target teachers to promote the educational use of film and media," she said.