Arab world films stir emotions at Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival

The films showcased at SICFF revive the essence of Arab culture

Some much-missed film festival glamour returned to Sharjah as a selection of heart-warming films were displayed at the Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival (SICFF) from October 23 to 28. Since 2013, the week-long film festival that is held every October has played a large role in not only showcasing but also encouraging the evolution of cinema.
To commemorate the celebration of contemporary Arab culture, the film festival showcased a selection of ‘Best Films’ held under the ‘From the Gulf’ and ‘From the Arab World’ categories.
Commenting on the festival, Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, Director of FUNN and of SICFF, said, “Films are a powerful medium that help address social issues and give a true picture of social realities. While these films stay true to the culture of the Arab world, they also reflect the ideologies and perception of the new generation. Gulf and Arab cinema is on the rise and there’s rapid growth in the industry. SICFF is a great platform to encourage budding filmmakers and showcase their talent to the world.”
Among the seven films screened under the category ‘From the Gulf’, key titles included ‘Violin’, a movie that explores the protagonist’s internal conflict over mixing his religious beliefs with his own life by internationally-acclaimed director Abdulaziz Al Shalahi from Saudi Arabia, who boasts a rich portfolio of films, documentaries and TV advertisements, and ‘Four Colours’ by Tawfik Alzaidi from Saudi Arabia—a visual treat that highlights the dreams of three university girls, co-produced by Two54.  Mohammed Al Murait from Saudi Arabia does an impressive job of calling attention to parental issues through his film ‘Full Memory’, and while each film offers a flattering narrative, ‘My Dear Home with Love’ by Aisha Al Zaabi from the UAE beautifully unravels friendship and emotions. Raed Al Shaikh from Saudi Arabia treats the recklessness of teenage driving with great sophistication in ‘Shabab Popcorn’, and ‘Orphanage’ by Hashim Sharaf from Bahrain also meticulously showcases the struggles of living all alone.
SICFF audiences also had the opportunity to view films under the category ‘From the Arab World’, which included ‘Karouma’ by Boubaker Boukhari from Algeria – a film that revolves around the opinions of a judgmental society; ‘Rough Cut’ by Asma el Moudir from Morocco, which tells the simple story of a 10-year old boy living in the desert; ‘Jasmine’ by Al Muhannad Kalthom from Syria, which documents the stories of Syrian children who live in difficult conditions; and ‘The Box’, which revolves around social media and its influences.
From short and feature-length films, to fictional stories and documentaries, the Arab world films featured at SICFF explored the creative journeys of the filmmakers and tackled important social issues governing the Arab realm.
While all the films engaged the audiences with the world around them, the UAE stole the show with a record number of entries. With 22 UAE films showcased at the festival, most of which were produced by FUNN students, it is clear that SICFF has been a pioneer in supporting and educating a new generation of filmmakers in the region.

Dubai Gazette