Sharjah Art Foundation’s annual film festival, Sharjah Film Platform (SFP), returns for its fourth edition from 19 to 27 November 2021. In addition to presenting a rich programme of film screenings, workshops and talks, Sharjah Film Platform also includes the Industry Hub, a critical programme that supports and nurtures filmmaking talent regionally and internationally. The Industry Hub comprises the Pitching Forum, a feature scriptwriting competition with an open call; the Script Lab, a professional scriptwriting course; and the Virtual Film Distribution Market, a platform dedicated to supporting regional and international film distribution for short and feature-length films across genres.

Pitching Forum and Script Lab

Returning for its third iteration, this year’s Pitching Forum is offering one script writer based in the UAE an opportunity to win 200,000 AED to turn his/her Arabic language feature-length script into a film. Shortlisted from a wider pool of applicants, 10 finalists will receive intensive scriptwriting training and professional pitching coaching and will then present their scripts to a panel of industry judges in front of a live audience on Friday, 26 November 2021, on the closing weekend of Sharjah Film Platform. The prize winner will be announced at the festival’s closing ceremony the next day. Production of the selected film should take place in Sharjah within 24 months of winning the prize. The Pitching Forum is supported by this year’s industry partner, Sharjah Media City (SHAMS).

This year’s Pitching Forum has been merged with the Script Lab, a scriptwriting course designed to give Pitching Forum finalists an opportunity to strengthen narrative arc and character development and take their scripts to the next level. The Script Lab will take place on-site at Sharjah Art Foundation across two weekends from 12 to 20 November 2021. Finalists will also receive pitching coaching over three intensive sessions, which will take place online and on-site at Sharjah Art Foundation from 21 to 25 November 2021.

Pitching Coach: Rami Yasin, producer

Script Lab Instructor: Mohammed Hassan Ahmed, screenwriter, director and producer

Pitching Forum Jury Members: Nahla Al Fahad, director and CEO, Beyond Studios; Fadi Haddad, Assistant Professor of Digital Production and Storytelling, American University in Dubai; Fagr Kassim Ali, Director, Media Sector Development, Sharjah Media City (Shams); Firas Sameer, director, editor and Founder, Babylon Gate Films; and Alia Yunis, director, screenwriter and Visiting Associate Professor, Film and Heritage Studies, NYU Abu Dhabi.

The open call for this year’s Pitching Forum invited submissions from 18 July to 18 September 2021.

Past Pitching Forum Awardees

A monetary prize was introduced at last year’s Pitching Forum. The recipient of the SFP3 Pitching Forum Prize in 2020 was Abdulla Al Kaabi, for his feature film script Camel Tears, which is currently in pre-production.

Virtual Film Distribution Market

The Virtual Film Distribution Market is an online distribution initiative for this year’s Sharjah Film Platform filmmakers and will give them the chance to receive distribution support for their films.

A catalogue of the films officially selected for Sharjah Film Platform 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 Sharjah Film Platform ends, from 19 November 2021 to 22 January 2022.

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 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 fourth edition of Sharjah Film Platform in November 2021.

Industry Partner

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Sharjah Film Platform is an annual festival organised by Sharjah Art Foundation to support the growing film scene in the UAE by celebrating and sustaining the work of local, regional and international filmmakers.

A limited number of Festival Passes and tickets to individual screenings are now available for purchase online. To book your SFP4 Festival Pass or tickets, click here.