SFP5 awarding ceremony at the Heritage Area, Heart of Sharjah

HH Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Federal Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Sharjah; Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation; Sheikha Nawar Al Qassimi, Vice President of Sharjah Art Foundation; HE Sheikh Salem bin Abdulrahman Al Qasimi, Chairman of Ruler’s Office; and HE Sean Murphy, Charge’ d’Affaires of the US Mission to the UAE at Sharjah Film Platform 5 closing ceremony, Sharjah Art Foundation, 30 October 2022. Photo: Sharjah Government Media Bureau


Sharjah Art Foundation recognised outstanding films in the Experimental, Narrative and Documentary categories at the recently concluded Sharjah Film Platform 5 (SFP5). The awarding ceremony took place on 30 October 2022 at the Heritage Area, Heart of Sharjah.

The Foundation also announced the winner of this year’s Pitching Forum, an open call feature scriptwriting competition, offering one scriptwriter based in the UAE an opportunity to win 200,000 AED to turn their Arabic language feature-length script into a film.

For this year’s Sharjah Film Platform awards, an external jury of filmmakers, critics and producers shortlisted the films and selected three winning entries per category: feature, short and honourable mention. SFP5’s distinguished jury includes:

Documentary category: Talal Afifi (Director, Sudan Film Factory); Maryam Kashani (filmmaker and Assistant Professor in Asian American Studies, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), Deepika Suseelan (Artistic Director, International Film Festival of Kerala)
Narrative category: Laila Aoudj (Co-founder, Dima Cinema); Hanna Atallah (Founder and Artistic Director, Filmlab Palestine), Scandar Copti (Associate Arts Professor of Film, NYU Abu Dhabi)
Experimental category: Darine Hotait (filmmaker); Hind Mezaina (artist, film curator); Kais Zaied (Co-founder, CinéMadart)

The fifth edition of Sharjah Film Platform brought together more than 30 regional and international films by emerging and award-winning filmmakers. The annual film festival included talks and masterclasses as well as musical performances that were introduced to the festival’s programme.

Sharjah Film Platform 5 award winners are:

Best Experimental Feature Film: Copacabana Papers (2021) by Fernando Portabales. According to the jury, ‘it is a film that packs a punch; in its chaotic style, fast paced editing and immense archive of pop culture, fashion, film and music references, this film challenges the concept of freedom through the journey of a provocative artist whose means of self-expression consisted of inventing a groundbreaking night life in Buenos Aires for a community that defied all social construct.’

Best Experimental Short Film: How to Reverse a Spell: The Promise of an Archive (2022) by Yasmine Benabdallah. The jury celebrated this ‘desktop film’ as it ‘uses the computer screen itself as a form of reflection on searching and navigating lost public archives in Morocco.’ Adding to that, the jury also said that the ‘disappearance of these files poses relevant questions applicable not only to Morocco but to other countries in the region as well.’

Honourable Mention (Experimental): INCIPINECE (2021) by Yaroslav Bulavin. The jury selected this ‘haunting and mesmerising film’ about water which was made without the use of computer effects. According to the jury, ‘the film served as a necessary reminder about the fragile state of the natural ecosystem on this planet.’

Best Narrative Feature Film: A Second Life, GADHA (2022) by Anis Lassoued. The jury found the ‘film both touching and thought-provoking. It is very well-scripted and beautifully staged and the actors' performances deeply touched the jury.’

Best Narrative Short Film: Hello (2022) by Catherine Mazoyer. The film captivated the jury with its ‘beautiful and thought-provoking story that escapes a heavy tone. It also deals with the theme of the fear of rejection using a light-hearted dialogue and an original narrative.’

Honourable Mention (Narrative): The Recess (2021) by Navid Nikkahah Azad. Speaking about the film, the jury appreciated the way it ‘tackles the image of gender oppression’. Additionally, they were also impressed with how ‘the director presented the main character in a sensitive and realistic way that convinced any viewer to live in the character’s world, as well as the unique dialogue between the girls formed an outstanding example of the art of short film.’

Best Documentary Feature Film: Veins of the Amazon (2021) by Alvaro Sarmiento, Diego Sarmiento and Terje Toomistu. The jury described it as a ‘brilliantly conceived and executed film documenting indigenous life along the Amazon river.’ In addition to the quality of the work, ‘the documentary reorients us, centring the world with people and their lives on a moving ship and its river edges.’

Best Documentary Short Film: 20 pounds per month (2019) by Hassan Ayman Abodoma. The film impressed the jury as ‘it depicted great humanity and awareness that brings viewers into a domestic and class reality on the verge of extinction.’ According to the jury, ‘the short film is deeply affecting in its portrayal of intimacy and anticipation through considered directing and portraiture of a spirited character and life force.’

Honourable Mention (Documentary): As I want (2021) by Samaher Alqadi. The jury honoured the ‘brave, unflinching and complexly layered film that conveys the unbreakable weave of the personal and political viewpoints on the streets and in the home.’ The jury acknowledged the ‘director’s creation of an impactful artwork under ongoing conditions of brutality and great insecurity, making it a deeply powerful and affecting film.’

A jury of filmmakers and industry experts also announced the winner of this year’s Pitching Forum: Sameeha bint Saeed Alavi was awarded the cash prize to support the production of her feature-length Arabic language screenplay titled Nabil.

Supported by Sharjah Media City (Shams), Pitching Forum is part of SFP Industry Hub which was created to inspire film industry professionals and enable the development of the work of filmmakers by connecting them with film industry professionals. Apart from The Pitching Forum, the Script Lab, a professional scriptwriting course is also a component of the Industry Hub. The latest addition, The Film Circulation Initiative, in partnership with the Network of Alternative Arab Screens (NAAS), enables the circulation of short and feature-length films through NAAS’s platform and network.

Partners and Supporters

SFP5 Industry Partner:
Sharjah Media City (Shams)

Official Airline:
Air Arabia

SFP5 Learning Programme Partners:
US Mission to the UAE
Division of Arts and Humanities, NYU Abu Dhabi

Learning Programme Supporter:
French Embassy/Institut Français in the UAE

SFP5 Film Circulation Partner:
Network of Arab Alternative Screens (NAAS)

About Sharjah Film Platform

Sharjah Film Platform (SFP) is an annual festival of independent cinema, documentary filmmaking and moving image where audiences can discover new approaches to film and art. The 10-day event—which includes a range of regional and international films, talks by filmmakers and industry professionals, musical concerts and mixers—is centred around Mirage City Cinema, the open-air theatre in Sharjah’s historical quarter.

Organised by Sharjah Art Foundation, SFP foregrounds recent cinematic achievements by international filmmakers and artists, noteworthy classics from around the region as well as experimental films that challenge the idea of what film practice is today.

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. 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.

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 Mohammad Al Qasimi, Sharjah is home to more than 20 museums and has long been known as the cultural hub of the United Arab Emirates. It was named UNESCO's Arab Capital of Culture for 1998 and the UNESCO World Book Capital for 2019.

Media Contact

Alyazeyah Al Marri
Sharjah Art Foundation