Sultan Al Qasimi and Sheikha Jawaher open 2nd Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival
His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, stressed the significant importance of developing children’s talents in the arts and filmmaking industries as well as providing the appropriate environment and tools to nurture those talents, in order to put them on the right path and create a new generation of creative talents who are able to compete with top children’s cinema players around the world.
The statement was made as His Highness and his wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, accompanied by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), opened the second edition of the Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre today, Sunday 19 October.
His Highness said in a speech he delivered in the opening ceremony: “I extend thanks to Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi for her outstanding efforts in supporting the development of Emirati and Arab children and for organising this important festival. I thank, also, Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi. God Willing, there will be great results of this festival in the near future. We greet and welcome every talent, shake their hands and promise them that we will be with them to hone their talents and help take them to the international level.”
During the opening ceremony, His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan honored the winners of the Film Competition that covers five categories, and was launched by the festival in its second edition.
Belgian group of children Filmmakers from Kidscamp Animation Film Studio won the best group film prize for their movie “Water in the City”, which explores life in the city and how water serves as a link between people. The Brazilian film “My Father’s Truck”, by Mauricio Osaki, won the best short film, touching upon ethics and values for children to learn how to coexist outside the classroom.
The science fiction film award went to the Russian director Alexandra Averyanova for her film “Shades of Gray”, the story of a young man and woman who meet each other 20 years after their first meeting when they were children.
Latin American Filmmaker Diego Sarmiento won the best documentary prize for his film “Earth’s Children”, which examines the lives of children of the Amazon in Latin America.
“The Painting Pool” by Iranian filmmaker’s MaziarMiri won the best short film, focusing on love as the key to resolve any problems facing society.
Speaking on the occasion, Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, said the launch of the second edition of the Sharjah International Children Film Festival is an important step in the progression of the world of children’s cinema, in the emirate’s quest to build and develop a cinematic experience for Emirati and Arab children beyond local and Arab boundaries, which can compete globally and convey its message across borders.
“No one can deny the role being played by cinema in shaping children’s consciences and honing their skills and experiences, expanding their horizons to learn about other world cultures and benefitting from them. As we strive to develop a strong local cinema scene, we should be committed to our social and cultural legacy and give more attention to children’s needs, so we can ultimately come up with a rich and dedicated experience,” Sheikha Jawaher said.
The film festival – the first of its kind in the region – is an ambitious initiative launched by FUNN organisation, dedicated to promoting media arts among children and young people and aiming to foster new forms of media art.
The festival brings together a large number of senior officials, prominent figures, and people interested in media art and cinema, including critics, directors and professionals in the film industry. The festival is also attended by Emirati and expatriate children and their parents.
This year’s edition will be showing 112 films from 35 countries, that were selected from among 144 films from 38 countries. The films vary between short and animated films, silent and fiction, and target various age groups: children under the age of 7 years, children aged 8-13 years, and young people aged 14-18 years. Film screenings will be held in various venues across the Emirate of Sharjah, most notably Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre and Novo Cinemas – Sahara Centre.
The film screenings will be held for the first time in five towns outside the Emirate of Sharjah, including Al Dhaid, Khorfakkan, Dibba Al Hisn, Kalba and Al Madam, broadening upon last year’s film screenings, which were held only in Al Dhaid and Khorfakkan.
The films will be screened at the Cultural Centre in Al Dhaid, Khorfakkan, Dibba Al Hisn, Kalba, while in Al Madam film screenings will take place at Al Madam Ladies Club.
Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, Director of FUNN Foundation, and Director of the Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival, said, “I have recurring dreams of Her Highness and His Highness giving me a thumbs up and encouraging me, which motivates me to exert every possible effort to grow the festival to become an extraordinary event that celebrates children and allows them to explore and develop their creativity and imagination.
Sheikha Jawaher noted that last year’s edition saw 10,000 visitors to the festival – but this year they are aiming to increase the number of visitors further, to enjoy more than 100 films, alongside workshops and diverse activities that have been added to the latest edition.
Extending her profound thanks to the sponsors, Sheikha Jawaher said: “Thank you, friends of the festival, we will never forget that you believed in us when we were small”.
Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi emphasized that the main reason for launching the film festival was for the benefit of children. “The children are the main reason we do what we do, why we are working until midnight and why we travel to learn – why we think of 2015’s edition even before this year’s has commenced.”
In conclusion, she said: “We are taking the necessary steps to foster and develop children’s talents, growing year by year, slowly but surely, while never losing the passion and enjoyment that are essential. And this is my promise to you all, our passion is our fuel, and we aim to infuse our children with it, so that the festival goes on long after we have passed on the baton.”
For her part, AmalHawija, Syrian theatrical actress and children’s literature writer, extended her deep thanks and appreciation to His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, well known for his passion for theatre and culture, for his ongoing support of the local and Arab art and cinema scene.
She expressed her special thanks to Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, Director of FUNN Foundation, and Director of the Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival, for her immense efforts, hard work and dedication, describing her as a “tireless bee” and “dreamer of her beautiful project”. She predicted that the festival, a brainchild of Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, will reap its rewards by nurturing a creative generation to come.
Emirati filmmaker and writer Najla Al Shehhi said: “The festival offers a unique opportunity for the children’s cinema industry in the country and encourages young talents to emerge. It is also a platform to showcase global and local experiences that can contribute to enriching the world of children’s cinema.”
She praised the efforts of the festival’s organisers to make it an international event, as well as their hard work to develop this unique cinematic experience. Najla expressed her hope that the festival will continue to grow year after year.
As the festival is primarily dedicated to children, who are passionate about the cartoon characters that play a key role in developing their personalities, the participation of American artist Brian Ferguson – who worked for over 20 years at Walt Disney – adds a unique value to the festival.
In his speech, Brian Ferguson highlighted the importance of such a festival to unlock the potential of talented children in the Arab world, and the Middle East at large.
He commended the idea, saying: “I am extremely pleased to participate in such a distinguished festival- unique of its kind in the region-as it gives space to young talents and their counterparts around the world to share expertise and experiences, which ultimately leads to developing the children’s film industry and promoting its creative and artistic level.
BadrJafar, CEO of Crescent Enterprises, golden Sponsor of the Festival: said, “There is incredible power behind the creative arts in having a lasting impact on the future of our societies. Events such as SICFF are
a unique way to positively influence the lives of our young people by exposing them to cultures and traditions on a global scale. This festival is also an excellent platform to celebrate our local artists who are best placed to act as our international cultural ambassadors.”
FUNN is an organization established by the Sharjah Government under the patronage of the Wife of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs. FUNN mainly aims to develop media arts (filmmaking, photography, graphic design and animation) for and among children and young people in Sharjah and the UAE.
Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival is the brainchild of FUNN – Sharjah Media Arts for Children and Youth, which was established under the patronage of the wife of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs.
The festival, the first of its kind in the UAE and Middle East, aims to promote media literacy among children and young people, foster their talent and creativity, and showcase their film productions.