Yaser Kassab, 'I Have Seen Nothing, I Have Seen All', 2019. Digital video, Color, sound; 20 minutes. Courtesy of the artist



The third edition of Sharjah Film Platform (SFP3), which took place from 14 to 21 November 2020, concluded with the selection of exemplary films in the narrative, documentary and experimental categories.

The Name of the Flowers, directed by Bahman Tavoosi, was awarded Best Narrative Feature Film. The jury unanimously selected the film for its emotional narrative arc linking isolated communities to the outside world through history and memory as well as its beautiful cinematography, atmospheric score and poetic homage to Che Guevara. The film’s mix of the Bolivian setting, the Spanish language and the director’s own Iranian, Canadian and American filmmaking practice gives it a strong intercultural dimension.

Stay Awake, Be Ready, directed by Pham Thien An, was selected as Best Narrative Short for its unique approach to telling a story through a static image, its dialogue on and off camera, and its modern and urban palette, both timeless and painterly. The scenes evoke a visceral sense of time and experience.

Mothers of the Land, directed by Alvaro and Diego Sarmiento, was awarded Best Documentary Feature Film for its timely, evocative and intelligent storytelling that paints a cautionary but hopeful portrait of our global plight from a grassroots perspective. The film tracks how communities in the Andean highlands draw upon indigenous agricultural knowledge to address commodification and climate change.

I Have Seen Nothing, I Have Seen All, directed by Yaser Kassab, received Best Documentary Short. A finely crafted tale on war and its aftermath, when even the dead are not at peace, the film was selected for its lyrical meditation on exile and displacement.

The Witch’s Cauldron, directed by Branislav Jankic, was selected as Best Experimental Feature Film for an original performance by MMA fighters, audience members and a narrator that highlights the repetitive pattern of violence in the Balkans.

Fasten Your Seatbelts While Seated, directed by Samir Radwan, was awarded Best Experimental Short for its personal sensitivity and universal narrative.

The jury also awarded Special Mentions to a number of films in the above categories: An-Nissa, directed by Ymane Fakhir (narrative category) for its strong storytelling that merges documentary with history, society, family relations in contemporary Morocco; How the Air Feels, directed by Khaula Malik (documentary category), for its lyrical, brave, and unflinching look at secrets and betrayals in an enclosed familial world; and The Wishing Tree, directed by Silvina Der Meguerditchian (documentary category), for its immersive journey in an Armenian town during the Soviet era that uncovers the rich cultural and experiential texture.

The Phantom Menace, directed by Graeme Arnfield (experimental category), received an Honorable Mention for its technical process and immersion within the concept of time of an uncertain future.

Shame, directed by Abdullah Al Benhamdah (narrative category), received a Commendation for its bold subject and original take on talking heads, investigative journalism and freedom of expression. It shows the importance of listening to pleas for help, addressing injustice and recognising trauma below the surface.

The SFP3 jury was composed of distinguished directors, filmmakers, producers and critics. The jury for Best Narrative Films was composed of Eve Gabereau (Founder & CEO, Modern Films Entertainment), Alice Kahroubi (Cannes Film Corner) and Kerem Ayan (Istanbul International Film Festival). The jury for Best Documentary Films comprised John Akomfrah (filmmaker), Iftikhar Dadi (educator and researcher) and Viola Shafik (film theorist). Apichatpong Weerasethakul (filmmaker), Delphine Garde-Mroueh (film programmer) and Mounir Fatmi (artist) were the jury for Best Experimental Films.

This year’s festival advisory committee included Sandra den Hamer (Director, Eye Film Institute), Maike Mia Höhne (Artistic Director, Hamburg International Short Film Festival) and Richie Mehta (filmmaker).

Taking place both on-site and online from 14 through 21 November 2020, the third edition of SFP was held in three venues in the city of Sharjah: the Foundation’s open-air contemporary theatre, Mirage City Cinema; the newly renovated iconic landmark The Flying Saucer; and CINEMACITY IMAX, Zero 6 Mall. The festival featured over 60 short and feature-length narrative, documentary and experimental films made by local, regional and international filmmakers as well as awards, talks and workshops exploring the latest techniques and theories in film.