Sharjah Art Foundation presents the SFP Industry Hub, a new programme launching this year as part of the Foundation’s annual film festival, Sharjah Film Platform (SFP), which will return for its third edition from 14 to 21 November 2020. The SFP Industry Hub features four main initiatives: Script Lab, Pre-Production Strategies Course, Virtual Film Distribution Market and Pitching Forum. Starting before the SFP screening programme and continuing afterwards, the Industry Hub initiatives run from 25 October 2020 to 16 January 2021. The programme is supported by this year’s industry partner, Sharjah Media City (Shams).

An immersive three-week online scriptwriting course, Script Lab helps participants take their scripts to the next level while the online Pre-Production Strategies Course offers participants training on how to prepare for a film shoot prior to production. The Pitching Forum returns for a second year in an expanded format and offers 10 Emirati scriptwriters the opportunity to pitch their scripts to win 100,000 AED for the production of a feature film. The Virtual Film Distribution Market is a new online initiative in which this year’s SFP filmmakers can receive distribution support for their films.

‘Sharjah Film Platform is an annual festival that brings the global film industry together to celebrate and encourage the work of filmmakers in the UAE and abroad,’ said Hoor Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Art Foundation. ‘It’s great to see it grow and launch new initiatives that continue our mission of supporting film production locally and around the world. We are delighted to partner with Sharjah Media City (Shams) to offer filmmakers new opportunities to develop current and future projects.’

H.E. Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City (Shams) said, ‘Shams offers a variety of opportunities to filmmakers to work on creative projects of their preference. Since its inception, Shams has always encouraged all kinds of ingenious talents and embraced arts and culture, providing the required resources to help talented individuals embark on their creative journey. We feel honored to be part of this program and give the participants an opportunity to be a part of the film and creative industry.’

‘The SFP Industry Hub supports the work of filmmakers at all stages of their careers through guidance and mentorship focusing on different phases of the production cycle, from scriptwriting to film distribution,’ stated Noora Al Mualla, Director of Learning and Research at Sharjah Art Foundation. ‘Through this new professional programme, we hope to give local and regional filmmakers additional resources to sustain their individual practices and catalyse filmmaking in the contemporary art community.’

In addition to introducing the SFP Industry Hub, the third edition of Sharjah Film Platform will screen over 60 local, regional and international short and feature-length narrative, documentary and experimental films. In conjunction with this screening programme, a number of talks and workshops on both conceptual and practical topics will be presented. These sessions will be led by acclaimed filmmakers and directors as well as renowned industry professionals. For the first time, the festival will also include a programme of workshops designed especially for children.

The festival continues the Foundation’s longstanding commitment to film programming and the work of emerging and established filmmakers, film producers, critics and students. A critical initiative that advances that goal, the Industry Hub acts is a valuable resource for film production in the UAE and beyond.

Below is the detailed Industry Hub programme:

Script Lab
25 October–15 November 2020
Application deadline: 18 October 2020

The Script Lab is an immersive three-week online scriptwriting course open to participants of all nationalities who have a draft of a feature-length script in English or Arabic that would benefit from professional development in a supportive and inspiring environment. With a focus on strengthening the narrative arc and deepening character development, the course provides intensive training to help participants take their scripts to the next level. By the end of the course, participants can expect to have a more polished script that will be in a better position to secure funding or go into production. The Script Lab will be offered simultaneously in both English and Arabic in parallel online courses.

Registration for the Script Lab is free, but participants are required to register for the course in advance in their preferred language as places on each course are limited to 10 and demand is high. Participants are also required to submit their draft scripts prior to beginning the course so that the instructors can familiarise themselves with the work and ensure that the course is evenly balanced amongst all participants who undergo the training. To register for the course, participants should contact Manal Al Muttawa on manal@sharjahart.org and specify their language preference. The deadline for registration is 18 October 2020. Participants will receive a Zoom link to join the course once their place is confirmed.

Pre-production Strategies Course
14–21 November 2020
Application deadline: 12 November 2020

This online professional training course presents a real-world overview of the preparation for a film shoot before the camera starts rolling. Participants will learn how to pitch and sell ideas, break down a script into a shooting schedule, create and manage a film budget, determine the best location(s) for filming, secure the right cast and crew, work with a director and handle other critical aspects that a producer will face. The course will be offered simultaneously in both English and Arabic in parallel online courses.

Registration for Pre-Production Strategies is free, but participants are asked to register in advance as places are limited and demand is high. To register for the course, participants should contact Alaa Amin on alaa.amin@sharjahart.org. The deadline for registration is 12 November 2020. Participants will receive a Zoom link to join the course once their place is confirmed.

Pitching Forum
Friday, 20 November 2020
Application deadline: 25 October 2020

The Pitching Forum aims to support the work of emerging filmmakers by connecting them with film industry professionals and offering them opportunities to find collaborators for future projects, exchange ideas and receive valuable feedback. Returning for a second year in an expanded format, this year’s Pitching Forum is offering one Emirati scriptwriter an opportunity to win 100,000 AED to turn his/her script into a feature film. Shortlisted from a wider pool of applicants, 10 finalists who have completed a feature-length script in Arabic will receive professional coaching in how to pitch a film script and then pitch their script to a panel of local industry judges. The live one-time pitching event will be held on Friday, 20 November 2020 after the finalists complete their coaching sessions. Production of the selected film should take place in Sharjah in 2021. Eligibility criteria for this initiative can be viewed here.

To apply, participants should submit the Arabic script and proof of at least one director’s credit to Jinan Coulter on jinan@sharjahart.org by 25 October 2020. For more information, please send an email to the address provided, or call 050 794 8020.

The Pitching Forum is supported by this year’s SFP industry partner Sharjah Media City (Shams). The learning partners for this initiative are New York Film Academy (NYFA) and Grey Matter.

Virtual Film Distribution Market
14 November 2020–16 January 2021

The Virtual Film Distribution Market is a new initiative in which this year’s Sharjah Film Platform filmmakers can participate. If they opt in, they will have the chance to receive distribution support for their films. A catalogue of the films by the registered SFP filmmakers will be privately showcased online to an invited list of industry guests, including sales agents, distributors, TV broadcasters, buyers, art house cinemas and film festival programmers, both regional and international. The industry guests will have log-in access during the dates of the festival and for up to two months after SFP ends.

This initiative provides the festival’s filmmakers with a vital opportunity to receive industry exposure that may open the door to wider distribution of their films. Industry guests who access the private catalogue will be able to contact filmmakers/rights holders directly if they are interested in discussing a potential deal and/or buying a film. Sharjah Art Foundation and its partners do not hold the rights to any of these films and are in no way involved in facilitating negotiations or acquisitions.

Entry to this distribution initiative is reserved for those filmmakers who have films screening at the third edition of Sharjah Film Platform in November 2020.

More information about the third edition of Sharjah Film Platform’s full programme will be available soon. To learn more, visit sharjahart.org

Sharjah Media City (Shams)

Sharjah Media City (Shams) is a world-class media hub for innovative facilities and services. Shams offers over 120 business activities to choose from and provides the flexibility to combine different activities on the same licence. Licenses issued by Shams allows companies to operate the business activities in accordance with their licence and offer facilities, flexible legal framework, general and logistics services to investors. Shams provides unique services to investors from across the world and high level of innovative services in a safe and vibrant ecosystem for entrepreneurs to set up their business.

About Sharjah Art Foundation

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 nonprofit and cultural organisations, corporate sponsors and individual patrons. All exhibitions and events are free and open to the public.

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 was designated the UNESCO ‘World Book Capital’ for the year 2019.

Media Contacts

Sharjah Art Foundation:
Alyazeyah Al Reyaysa, +971(0)65444113