Sharjah films
Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth is scheduled to be held virtually from October 10-15. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: More than 80 narratives of childhood, ranging from animation and shorts to features and documentaries from the region and around the world will be screened at the upcoming eighth edition of the Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFF), scheduled to be held from October 10-15.

FUNN, the Sharjah-based organisation that promotes media arts learning among children and youth, has announced that the 2021 edition of SIFF will showcase an array of genres that combine the best of audio-visual storytelling and entertainment, and which reflect a rich diversity of voices.

Strong and diverse programming

A great selection of exciting and innovative films from 38 countries will be up for viewing at SIFF 2021, which takes a fully virtual route this year.

Sheikha Jawaher Bint Abdullah Al Qasimi

Held under the patronage of Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA), and themed, ‘Think Film’, the festival also presents a strong and diverse programming agenda encompassing 48 film premieres, 30 workshops in both Arabic and English, seven panel discussions, awards in seven categories and more for the young audience.

SIFF 2021, which celebrates cinema from around the world, received a total of 4,284 submissions across seven categories for the years 2020 and 2021. Of the more than 80 movies chosen for screening, 31 are animations, nine are child and youth-made films, seven are documentaries and eight are feature films. In addition, 13 films each fall under the categories of student and international short films, while there will be six short films from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations.

Emerging passionate storytellers

SIFF logo

As part of its carefully crafted programming, SIFF 2021 will host the premiere of a selection of 48 films by young and emerging passionate storytellers that comprise four films from the UAE, three from the GCC, 35 from the Middle East and six films representing the unique vision of global filmmakers.

The six-day cultural festival will also host 17 informative and educational workshops for children that touch upon the essentials of panorama and abstract photography, stop motion animation and animated cartoon sketching. Youth in the UAE and beyond can look forward to 13 workshops that focus on the art of filmmaking, storytelling, and specialised photography, amongst others.

Panel discussions

SIFF children
Children soak up the on-screen feast during an earlier edition of SIFF. Image Credit: Supplied

The festival will organise a series of engaging panel discussions that will bring together film-making specialists from the Arab world and beyond. During the sessions, the experts will highlight emerging opportunities in the field that new generations of talented young people can explore and pursue.

Expert jury selected to lead SIFF awards

On the SIFF jury this year are 13 acclaimed national, regional and international filmmakers, who will be selecting winners from seven categories. The jurors comprise filmmakers in animation, feature films, documentaries, actors and academics. The festival winners will be announced during the closing ceremony on October 15, 2021.

Catering to a diverse audience

Speaking about the highlights of the eagerly anticipated film festival, Sheikha Jawaher Bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, Director of FUNN and SIFF, said: “As in our past editions, the eighth edition of SIFF promises to bring together some of the most unique and engaging filmmaking from across the UAE and around the world to our diverse audiences. Educating and providing the tools necessary to develop a promising generation of creative young moviemakers and media arts specialists are at the heart of SIFF’s programming agenda. Accordingly, workshops and discussions led by eminent professionals in the industry from across cultures will nurture the creative and filmmaking skills of young talent and enhance their potential.”

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‘Reaching out to lovers of cinema’

She added: “Thanks to the directives of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and the continuous support of Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA), we have reached lovers of cinema and new media arts as well as film and TV professionals from different countries, and we succeeded in forming a lasting friendship with them.”

For more information on the festival activities and the registrations process, visit the SIFF website, or FUNN Instagram @sharjahiff.