HH Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Federal Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates, Ruler of Sharjah, and Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, at the Sharjah Film Platform closing ceremony, Sharjah Art Foundation, December 2019. Photo: Sharjah Government Media Bureau


HH Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Federal Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Sharjah, attended the closing ceremony of the second edition of the annual Sharjah Film Platform on 21 December 2019.

Also in attendance were HE Major General Saif Muhammad Al Zari Al Shamsi, Commander-in-Chief of Sharjah Police; HE Dr Khalid Omar Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City (SHAMS); HE Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority; and Dr Salah Hassan, Director of The Africa Institute.

During the closing ceremony, Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, spoke about the second edition of the annual film festival. ‘Sharjah Film Platform is our initiative to engage with filmmakers, critics and industry experts familiar with the latest developments and current challenges in the field while also bringing together a wide range of like-minded regional and international audiences to enjoy the event,’ said Al Qasimi. ‘I would like to take this occasion to dedicate our efforts to the person whose ongoing support and extraordinary vision have laid the deep foundations upon which the distinctly cultural character of Sharjah has been built: HH Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Federal Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Sharjah.’

An internationally renowned jury of filmmakers and film industry professionals selected the winners of the Best Narrative, Best Experimental and Best Documentary Films as well as the Jury Prizes, which were announced at the closing ceremony.

The award for Best Narrative Film went to Far in Night by Syed Maisam Ali Shah for a film that captures the fleeting poetry of ordinary moments and suggests a world that is hidden to many. The Jury Prizes were awarded to Blessed Land by Pham Ngoc Lân for a film with a lyrical rumination on loss and progress and Children of the Lake by Emerson Reyes for its original approach to the need for stewardship—for each other and the land—in a violent new world.

The award for Best Documentary Film went to Lotus by Mohammadreza Vatandoust for an exceptionally well-made and moving short film, one that combines great cinematography with poetic storytelling. The Jury Prizes went to two films that deal with forced migration and share a sense of urgency: Shadow by Zeinah al Qahwaji and Otranto by Ionian Bisai and Sotiris Tsiganos. Both have strong women as leads, but they are presented from different directorial perspectives. One is strong on introspection; the other pursues a cause that is both political and personal.

The award for Best Experimental Film went to That Cloud Never Left by Yashaswini Raghunandan for its hybrid of documentary and fiction as well as its poetic liberties with scanned 35mm film, folk songs and the essential labour of the People’s Archive of Rural India. The Dark Cloud by Ndumiso Mnguni was awarded the Jury Prize for Best Experimental Science Fiction Film for its risk-taking approach to the Afrofuturist genre, blending Zulu cosmology, networked technology and messages from the fourth dimension. Finally, 32-Rbit by Victor Orozco Ramirez was awarded the Jury Prize for Best Experimental Animation for a hallucinatory vision of reinventing our Internet reality through CTRL+Z, its use of kinetic high-speed animation and the darkest of humour.

The jury members included Abdulla Al Kaabi (filmmaker); Emile Fallaux (Board Member, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam); Solange Farkas (Chief Curator and General Director of the Contemporary Art Festival SESC_Videobrasil); Annemarie Jacir (filmmaker); Butheina Kazem (writer, filmmaker and Founder, Cinema Akil); John Lahoud (writer, producer, director and actor); Mohammed Mallas (filmmaker); Richie Mehta (writer and director); and Naeem Mohaiemen (artist).
In its second iteration, Sharjah Film Platform screened more than 50 short and feature films by local, regional and international filmmakers in the narrative, documentary and experimental categories. In addition to film screenings, the festival included a series of talks and panel discussions by leading moving image artists, directors, filmmakers and film industry professionals as well as workshops that focused on film criticism, acting and improvisation.

Sharjah Film Platform was supported by Sharjah Media City (SHAMS) and Hilton Sharjah.

About Sharjah Film Platform

Reflecting the growing importance of film in its work, Sharjah Art Foundation launched Sharjah Film Platform (SFP), an annual programme that supports film production in the United Arab Emirates and the region and provides a critical platform for both established and aspiring filmmakers. SFP has three main components: a curated film programme and award; a programme of talks, workshops and discussions; and a production grant for short films.

About Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF)

Sharjah Art Foundation is an advocate, catalyst and producer of contemporary art within the Emirate of Sharjah and the surrounding region, in dialogue with the international arts community. Under the leadership of founder Hoor Al Qasimi, a curator and artist, the foundation advances an experimental and wide-ranging programmatic model that supports the production and presentation of contemporary art, preserves and celebrates the distinct culture of the region and encourages a shared understanding of the transformational role of art. The foundation’s core initiatives include the long-running Sharjah Biennial, featuring contemporary artists from around the world; the annual March Meeting, a convening of international arts professionals and artists; grants and residencies for artists, curators, and cultural producers; ambitious and experimental commissions and a range of travelling exhibitions and scholarly publications.

Established in 2009 to expand programmes beyond the Sharjah Biennial, which launched in 1993, the foundation is a critical resource for artists and cultural organisations in the Gulf and a conduit for local, regional and international developments in contemporary art. The foundation’s deep commitment to developing and sustaining the cultural life and heritage of Sharjah is reflected through year-round exhibitions, performances, screenings and educational programmes in the city of Sharjah and across the Emirate, often hosted in historic buildings that have been repurposed as cultural and community centres. A growing collection reflects the foundation’s support of contemporary artists in the realisation of new work and its recognition of the contributions made by pioneering modern artists from the region and around the world.

Sharjah Art Foundation is a legally independent public body established by Emiri Decree and supported by government funding, grants from national and international nonprofits and cultural organisations, corporate sponsors and individual patrons.

About Sharjah

Sharjah is the third largest of the seven United Arab Emirates and the only one bridging the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Reflecting the deep commitment to the arts, architectural preservation and cultural education embraced by its ruler, Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Sharjah is home to more than 20 museums and has long been known as the cultural hub of the United Arab Emirates. In 1998, it was named UNESCO's 'Arab Capital of Culture' and has been designated the UNESCO ‘World Book Capital’ for the year 2019.

Media Contact

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