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, with filmmakers and jury members at the Sharjah Film Platform award ceremony, Sharjah Art Foundation, 2019. Photo: Sharjah Art Foundation 

Overview

The second edition of Sharjah Film Platform concluded with the announcement of the Best Narrative, Best Experimental and Best Documentary Films as well as six Jury Prizes, which were selected by an internationally renowned jury of filmmakers and film industry professionals.

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 for narrative films 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); Johnny Lahoud (writer, producer, director and actor); Mohamad Malas (filmmaker); Richie Mehta (writer and director) and Naeem Mohaiemen (artist).

This year’s edition of Sharjah Film Platform featured over 50 local, international and regional short and feature-length films in the narrative, documentary and experimental genres, which were submitted through the annual SFP open call. The festival also included an extensive programme of talks and workshops led by acclaimed experts in the film industry.