Since 2003 the Sharjah Art Foundation and Sharjah Biennial have supported artists working in film through commissions for Biennial programmes and Production Grants.

Sharjah Biennial and Film

While over the years Sharjah Biennial curators have selected works of film and video as part of their Biennial’s exhibition, increasingly film has been the focus of Biennial parallel programmes.

In 2011, Sharjah Biennial 10 curators invited a selection of filmmakers and curators to respond to the conceptual framework of their curatorial theme for Plot for a Biennial. Six short fiction and non-fiction films were commissioned from filmmaker and visual artist Karim Ainouz (Brazil); filmmakers and visual artists Rania Attiah (Lebanon) and Daniel Garcia (US); filmmaker Hicham Ayouch (Morocco); filmmaker Ali Essafi (Morocco); writer, actor and filmmaker, Sean Gullette (US); and filmmaker, cinematographer and editor Bahman Kiarostami (Iran).

The 2011 commissioned film program included the screening of The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni by Lebanese producer and filmmaker Rania Stephan, co-produced by the Biennial, and Lebanese artist and filmmaker Akram Zaatari’s Tomorrow Everything Will Be Alright.

The Biennial also invited a selection of curators and programmers to propose screening programmes inspired by the Biennial’s themes. Curators of the screening program included: Solange Farkas, Founder and Director of the Associação Cultural Videobrasil, São Paolo; Steve Reinke, Canadian video artist and writer; Marcel Schwierin, Berlin-based curator, filmmaker, and editor of cinovid.org; Keith Shiri, founder and director of Africa at the Pictures and the London African Film Festival; and, What, How and for Whom (WHW), a curators’ collective based in Croatia.

In 2013, Sharjah Biennial Curator Yuko Hasegawa invited Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul to curate the film programme for Sharjah Biennial 11 Re-emerge: Towards a New Cultural Cartography. Weerasethakul invited seven programmers to join and make a selection of short and feature films, or commission new films. Invited programmers included: Steve Anker, Dean of the School of Film/Video at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Los Angeles, Tilda Swinton, Scotland, Mehelli Modi, Founder of Second Run DVD, London, Alcino Leite Neto, editor, Sao Paulo, Khavn De La Cruz, poet, pianist, filmmaker, Mondomanila, the Philippines, Jean-Pierre Rehm, theorist, Festival Director, FIDMarseille, Paris, and Ali Jaafar, Executive Director, Independent Film Division, Quinta Communications, London.

As part of the SB11 film programme, Weerasethakul worked with architect Ole Scheeren to design the Mirage City Cinema, the UAE’s only dedicated outdoor cinema space.