‘Bori’ is a South Korean girl trying to fit in with her family members who are all deaf Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: The first virtual edition of the Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFF 2021) began on Sunday evening with Kim Jin-Yu’s South Korean feature ‘Bori’ making its Middle East premiere.

Organised by ‘FUNN - Sharjah Media Arts for Youth and Children’ under the theme ‘Think Film’, SIFF 2021 is open to audiences across the world who can register on its website to view the films and attend the workshops and panel discussions. SIFF will continue until Friday.

Packed programme

SIFF 2021 includes more than 80 films from 38 countries, including six world premieres, 34 Middle East and four GCC premieres, and four films being shown for the first time in the UAE.

SIFF will also host 34 workshops and five panel discussions in English and Arabic, presented by renowned filmmakers on various aspects of filmmaking.

First day, first show

SIFF 2021 opened with the South Korean film Bori, making its Middle East debut. Directed by Kim Jin-Yu, the film narrated the story of Bori who lives with her parents and little brother, the only member in an otherwise deaf and silent household who can talk and hear and constantly prays to go deaf too. The film focuses on the young girl’s struggle to fit in with her own family.

Speaking at the opening ceremony was Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, Director of FUNN and SIFF; Emirati filmmaker Nahla Al Fahad; Syrian actors Abed Fahed and Yahya Mahayni (whose performance in the 2021 Oscar-nominated film ‘The Man Who Sold His Skin’ won him acclaim); and a host of Junior Jurors.

‘Films shield us’

In her keynote at the ceremony, Sheikha Jawaher said: “For years, FUNN has been realising the vision of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, as well as the directives of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, by investing in children and youth and building ambitious generations capable of fully expressing their creativity and sharing it with their peers worldwide.”

Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah addressing the first virtual edition of SIFF Image Credit: Supplied

She added: “Amid recent challenges and uncertainty, we deepen our bond with life and see the extraordinary in its simplicities. Films have gifted us fascinating and unforgettable moments. At times, they serve as a shield in the face of challenges and become a bridge that helps us reach out to and communicate with people, especially from other cultures.”

‘The magic of cinema’

Al Fahad said: “Today [Sunday], we are gathered here for an exceptional festival that aims to develop the talents of children and youth in the field of cinema. This golden opportunity was not available to previous generations. SIFF now provides it to lovers of photography, acting, and directing through film screenings, training workshops, and panel discussions, in addition to meeting with experts.”