An annual festival organised by Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah Film Platform (SFP) supports the growing film scene by celebrating and sustaining the work of emerging and established filmmakers. SFP features a core film screening programme, awards, talks and workshops as well as an industry-focused programme that acts as a critical resource for film production in the UAE and beyond. An essential component of the festival is the Short Film Production Grant, which provides emerging filmmakers with funding for the creation and production of original short films. The winning films premiere at a future edition of the festival as part of the extensive screening programme. SFP takes place at the Foundation’s contemporary venues and heritage sites as well as in various locations across the emirate, including Sharjah’s central and eastern regions.
Film screening programme
The festival presents a comprehensive film programme that includes short and feature-length films in the narrative, documentary and experimental categories. Celebrating the work of local, regional and international filmmakers, the programme features films selected through an annual open call as well as a number of invited cinematic works. Screenings take place in various SFP venues, and during the third edition of the festival this year, films will also be available for streaming online.
Talks and workshops
A number of talks and workshops on both conceptual and practical topics are presented at the festival in parallel with the film screening programme. Led by acclaimed Emirati filmmakers and directors as well as renowned industry professionals from around the world, the sessions explore issues and trends that influence contemporary film production and moving image practices. The workshops, designed for both cinephiles and filmmakers, introduce participants to various aspects of filmmaking, from screenwriting and acting to critique and editing. This public programme is free to attend and open to the public.
An international jury of distinguished directors, filmmakers and critics presents a number of awards, including Best Narrative, Best Documentary and Best Experimental Film, to outstanding cinematic productions screened during the festival. The winning filmmakers receive a monetary prize to support the production of future projects.
Past winners include That Cloud Never Left by Yashaswini Raghunandan, Cherries by Dubravka Turic, I Have a Picture: Film No. 1001 in the Life of the Oldest Extra in the World by Mohamed Zedan, The Dark Cloud by Ndumiso Mnguni, 32-Rbit by Victor Orozco Ramirez, Lotus by Mohammadreza Vatandoust, Far in Night by Syed Maisam Ali Shah and A Stroll Down Sunflower Lane by Mayye Zayed.
Previous jurors include Kamal Al Jafari (experimental filmmaker), Abdulla Al Kaabi (filmmaker), Steven Cairns (Curator of Artists’ Film and Moving Image, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London), Manthia Diawara (filmmaker, cultural theorist and art historian), Jihan El Tahri (filmmaker and artist), 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 Kazim (writer, filmmaker and founder of Cinema Akil), Johnny Lahoud (writer, producer, director and actor), Mohamad Malas (filmmaker), Lina Matta (Director of MBC 2, MBC 4, MBC Max and MBC Variety, and Curator of ANA Contemporary Arab Cinema series), Richie Mehta (writer and director), Naeem Mohaiemen (artist), Ali Mostafa (filmmaker, director and producer), Kong Rithdee (filmmaker and film critic), Ghassan Salhab (screenwriter, film director and producer) and Rania Stephan (filmmaker and video artist).
In keeping with its commitment to supporting and nurturing filmmaking talent regionally and internationally, Sharjah Film Platform is introducing the Industry Hub, an industry-focused programme that is part of the third edition of the film festival. Taking place before and during the film festival screening programme, the SFP Industry Hub activities, organised in collaboration with Sharjah Media City (SHAMS), aim to develop the work of filmmakers by connecting them with film industry professionals and offering them opportunities to find collaborators for future projects, exchange ideas and receive valuable feedback. The first iteration of the programme runs from 25 October to 16 January 2021.
Short Film Production Grant
A central SFP initiative, the SFP Short Film Production Grant provides funding for the creation and production of original short films. Through an annual open call, filmmakers submit an application with an overview of the genre, themes, structure, plot, setting and characters of their film in order to have an opportunity to receive substantial funding for the realisation of their film. Grant recipients are expected to premiere their completed films at a future edition of the festival.
More information about this year’s edition of the festival can be found here.
The third edition of Sharjah Art Foundation’s film festival, Sharjah Film Platform 3 (SFP3), features over 60 short and feature-length films, a public programme of talks and workshops, the SFP Industry Hub and awards. SFP3 takes place across cinemas in Sharjah and online.