A 13-member jury of international filmmakers, actors and academics will lead the prestigious Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFF) 2021 awards. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: A 13-member jury of international filmmakers, actors and academics will lead the prestigious Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFF) 2021 awards, organisers announced on Friday.

SIFF 2021 will be held from October 10-15 under the theme ‘Think Film’, with a fully virtual programme that includes 48 film premieres, 30 workshops in both Arabic and English, seven panel discussions and more. The festival is organised by FUNN — the Sharjah-based organisation that promotes media arts learning among children and youth.

A big spread

More than 80 films are in competition at the festival. Films chosen for screening include 30 animation films, nine children and youth-made films, six documentaries, eight full-length features, 13 students’ films and international short films and six short films from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. SIFF 2021 attracted a total of 2,950 submissions this year.

The following jury will evaluate the films competing in seven categories, based on the ideas and objectives behind them, the implementation standards, creativity and innovation, presentation and techniques:

Image Credit: Supplied

Students’ Films:

The entries in this category will be evaluated by Emirati filmmaker Hamad Abdullah Saghran, whose very first short film The Sea Hides won several local and regional awards. He is also the co-founder of Villa Cinema — an interactive platform for potential film producers — together with Bahraini photographer and video artist Mashael Alsaie, whose work has featured in group exhibitions at Misk, Riyadh (2020), PS122, New York (2019), and Bahrain Annual Fine Arts Festival (2020).

GCC Short Films:

Emirati filmmaker Majid Al Ansari will evaluate this category. His debut feature Zinzana (Rattle The Cage) won him the Arab Filmmaker of the Year award at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival. He also directed several episodes of the Netflix series Paranormal. He will be joined by Abdullah Al-Turkmany, Kuwaiti actor and director who has won multiple awards for his efforts on stage as well as television, including Kuwait’s State Award of Admiration and Encouragement in Arts; and Omani filmmaker Dr Khalid bin Abdul Rahim Al Zadjali, who is founder and president of the Arab Cinemana Festival as well as director of Stockholm’s Hope International Film Festival (HIFF).

International Short Films:

Jury member Maryam Bin Fahad is a filmmaker and media personality with vast experience, having served as media adviser to the National Media Council. She was named one of the most powerful Arab women in the government sector for 2013 by Forbes Middle East magazine and has won the Sony Award for Young Film Directors from the UAE for her short film Fourak Al Rouh. She will partner with journalist and film academician Giulio Vita from Italy, who founded the La Guarimba Film Festival, to determine the winners in this category.

Animation Films:

Fadel Al Mheiri, the director of Catsaway, the first feature-length animation film produced and set in Abu Dhabi, studied filmmaking at the American University of Sharjah. His experimental short films have been shown at the Emirates Film Competition and won prestigious awards. In judging the entries for this category, Al Mheiri will be accompanied by Yousef Albagshi, cartoonist and animation artist from Kuwait, whose short films have won awards at several international festivals.

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Documentary Films:

This category will be evaluated by James Piecowye, associate professor, College of Communication and Media Sciences at Zayed University in Dubai, and a popular podcaster; and Bentley Brown, American director and producer whose films include Oustaz (Berlinale 2016), First Feature (IFFRotterdam 2019), and Revolution From Afar (Africa Movie Academy Awards Nominee 2020).

Feature Films:

Popular Syrian actor Abed Fahad, who most recently won the Golden Award for best actor at the Cairo Art Festival for his roles in Al Haggag and Al Thaher Pepars, will join Kuwaiti director Khaled Al Refai in evaluating films in this category.