190116 movies to watch
Image Credit: Supplied

The Sharjah Film Platform, a new film festival in the UAE, will kick off on January 18 and run until the 26th, featuring film screenings, talks and workshops. More than 140 films from 40+ countries will show across multiple venues. Here’s a guide to some of the films you can catch — and five workshops and talks you don’t want to miss.

1. Maryam (2019) — UAE — 22 min

January 18 — Mirage City Cinema & January 26 — Sharjah Institute of Theatrical Arts

Director: Mohammad Al Hammadi

A young Emirati dreams of pursuing acting in New York, but family tragedy, and her mother’s desire for her to marry, come in the way.

2. Spaces of Exception (2018) — USA, Lebanon, Palestine — 90 min

January 18 — Mirage City Cinema & January 26 — Sharjah Institute of Theatrical Arts

Director: Matt Peterson, Malek Rasamny

This is the world premiere of ‘Spaces of Exception’, which explores life, sovereignty and indigenous land. It was shot between America, Lebanon and the West Bank. Filmmakers will be in attendance.

3. Baitna Cheshire (2017) — Sudan — 82 min

January 19 & 22, Africa Hall

Director: Muzamil Elrayah

A documentary about Khartoum Cheshire Home, a comprehensive facility for the care and treatment of children with disabilities.

4. Stone on the Road (2016) — Kuwait — 8 min

January 19 & 23, Sharjah Institute of Theatrical Arts

Director: Mohammad Bloshi

A manager tests job applicants by posing as a beggar outside the company.

5. Asphalt (2016) — Lebanon — 70 min

January 19 & 23, Sharjah Institute of Theatrical Arts

Director: Ali Hammoud

Two truck drivers, one Lebanese and one Egyptian, reflect on life behind the wheel, against a changing Arab landscape.

6. Birth (2017) — UAE — 82 min

January 19 & 23, Sharjah Institute of Theatrical Arts
Director: Abdulla Hasan

A family experiences life and death on the same day in their mountain village.

7. Establishing Eden — Netherlands — 10 min

January 20 — Mirage City Cinema & January 23 — Al Hamra Cinema

Director: Broersen & Lukacs

This film zeroes in on the ‘establishing shot’, when a landscape is first introduced as a character in a film. The filmmakers travel to New Zealand where ‘The Lord of the Rings’ was shot, to capture several visual possibilities.

8. KILAUEA: Pele’s Domain (2018) — USA — 29 min

January 20 — Mirage City Cinema & January 23 — Al Hamra Cinema

Director: JoAnn Gillerman

Shot over three decades at one of the world’s most active volcanoes, this story is told from the point-of-view of an indigenous Hawaiian woman in an evacuation centre.

9. Mohammed Rafi Fan Blog (2017) — India — 31 min

190116 Mohammad Rafi.
Mohammad Rafi Image Credit: Supplied

January 20 & 24, Africa Hall

Director: Nihaal Faizal

A look into the relationship between the director’s family and Bollywood playback singer Mohammad Rafi, featuring the filmmaker’s uncle’s now-deleted blog about Rafi.

10. I Have a Picture: Film No. 1001 in the Life of the Oldest Extra in the World (2018) — Egypt — 72 min

January 20 & 24, Africa Hall

Director: Mohammed Zedan

Two film directors and a long time extra interact, leading to power struggles and the realisation that everyone lives life as an extra waiting for their big shot.

11. 1991 (2018) — USA — 12 min

January 20 & 22, Al Hamra Cinema

Director: Saif Alsaegh

A FaceTime conversation between the filmmaker, an Iraqi asylum seeker living in America and his mother, Bushra, an Iraqi immigrant residing in Turkey and waiting approval to immigrate.

12. Time Spy (2015) — China — 10 min

January 20 & 22, Sharjah Institute of Theatrical Arts

Director: Sun Xun

This 3D animation exploring the theme of ‘time’ is created out of thousands of individually hand-carved woodcuts, crafted with the help of hundreds of Chinese art students.

13. 2001: Pressure Makes Diamonds (2018) — UK — 13 min

January 20 & 22, Sharjah Institute of Theatrical Arts

Director: Kazim Rashid

An experimental film examining the impact of the post-2001 ‘War on Terror’ on second- and third-generation South Asian, Middle Eastern and Muslim migrants.

14. Your father was born 100 years old, and so was the Nakba (2017) — Lebanon — 7 min

January 20 & 22, Sharjah Institute of Theatrical Arts

Director: Razan Al Salah

A Palestinian grandmother revisits her hometown of Haifa via Google Street View — the only way she can witness Palestine today.

15. Who Is Now Lying (2017) — Indonesia — 72 min

January 20 & 25, Sharjah Institute of Theatrical Arts

Director: Mohammad Erlangga Fauzan

An unemployed, home-dwelling man who lives with his mother has a strange nightmare that jolts him out of his sedentary lifestyle.

16. A Blink of an Eye (2017) — Saudi Arabia — 8 min

January 21 — Mirage City Cinema & January 25 — Africa Hall

Director: Fatima Al Banawi

Five stories out of Jeddah revolve around the lives of strangers who unite in a moment.

17. Petals (2018) — UK — 8 min

January 21 — Africa Hall, January 24 — Mirage City Cinema

Director: Ghofran Gouda

Inspired by a true story, ‘Petals’ follows Emily, whose three sons go to war. Two die, and the third goes missing. Emily wants answers.

18. The Units of the World According to Semicolon (2011) — South Korea — 26 min

January 21 — Al Hamra Cinema & January 23 — Africa Hall

Director: YoungEun Kim

12 punctuation marks, typically silent, are given a voice to represent their respective characters. The semicolon narrates.

19. Cactus Flower (2017) — Egypt — 142 min

January 21 & 24, Sharjah Institute of Theatrical Arts

Director: Hala Elkoussy

Three homeless strangers come together on the streets of Cairo. Struggling actress Aida, elderly neighbour Samiha and street-smart Yassin form a bond.

20. Ghost Mode (2018) — France — 16 min

January 22 — Mirage City Cinema & January 25 — Africa Hall
Director: Sofia Alaoui

A group of teens spend time together over the summer in suburban Paris. One day, one of the girls fails to show up at the scheduled time, and they struggle to get in touch with her.

21. Mesteka & Rehan (2017) — Egypt — 60 min

January 22 & 24, Sharjah Institute of Theatrical Arts
Director: Dina Abd Elsalam

Two widows — Mesteka, a 70-year-old Muslim, and Rehan, a 67-year-old Christian — live next to each other. They experience loneliness, until tragedy gives way to comedy.

22. Hills Without Names (2018) — Azerbaijan — 93 min

January 23 — Africa Hall & January 25 — Sharjah Institute of Theatrical Arts

Director: Hilal Baydarov

The film’s protagonist, named only Wanderer, returns to his land after many years to hear the Voice, which can only be heard there.



190116 Youssef Chahine.
Youssef Chahine. Image Credit: Supplied

Egyptian director Youssef Chahine, born in 1926, crossed borders with films that dealt with power, oppression and corruption. To commemorate the 10th anniversary of Chahine’s death, three of his restored films — each from a different decade — will be screened.

1. Cairo Station (1958) — 73 min

A disabled news vendor (Chahine) grows obsessed with a young lemonade stand vendor, and his infatuation leads to violence.

2. The Land (1969) — 130 min

A group of 1930s peasant farmers struggle to protect their fields and their livelihoods from a corrupt pasha. Based on a novel.

3. The Sixth Day (1986) — 105 min

190106 the sixth day
Image Credit: Supplied

During the 1947 cholera epidemic in Egypt, Sadika takes care of her bedridden husband and sick son, while forming a bond with a young street performer. Based on a novel.


In Conversation with Abdullah Al Kaabi

190116 Abdullah Al Kaabi.
Abdullah Al Kaabi. Image Credit: Supplied

January 18 — 5.45pm — Gallery 6, Al Mureijah Square

Filmmaker Abdullah Al Kaabi discusses upcoming projects and his award-winning film, ‘Only Men Go to the Grave’ (2016), with Variety film critic Jay Weissberg.

Funding for MENA Artists and Filmmakers

January 20 — 10.30am — Gallery 6, Al Mureijah Square

Representatives from three major funds (The Royal Film Commission, Jordan; Malmo Arab Film Festival; Arab Fund for Arts and Culture) discuss the state of film funding in the Arab world and how to move forward.

Filmmaking Workshop: Screenwriting Essentials

January 18 — 1pm-4pm — Gallery 2, Al Mureijah Square

Screenwriter Yazan Ghazzawi leads a workshop on screenwriting essentials, from concept, character and story to plot, dialogue and structure.

Filmmaking Workshop: Designing Camera Shots

January 19 — 3pm-6pm — Gallery 2, Al Mureijah Square

Frederico Beja will teach the language of shot design, composition, camera placement and movement. Participants will create a short cinematic piece to be screened on a date of their choosing.

Filmmaking Workshop: Lighting for Film and Video Production

January 23 — 10am-1pm — Gallery 2, Al Mureijah Square

A lesson in the importance of proper lighting of places and subjects, with an overview of lighting theory and the demonstration of different techniques. Frederico Beja leads.

*Online registration is required to attend talks and workshops. General admission for film screenings, which are split into programmes, is Dh15 per person. A full schedule and more details on timings can be found on the Sharjah Art Foundation website.