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Local Filmmaking Talents Shine Through In Upcoming SICFF: Children’s Films Set To Be "A Tangible Force Of Creative Expression"

Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival has dedicated itself towards the themes of education and local creativity, nurturing both young professionals and even younger children, encouraging filmmaking as a creative storytelling path that expands our experiences and teaches us about ourselves and other cultures.

While SICFF has gathered together more than 75 films from 32 countries, it is most excited about the different ways children have interacted with the festival. Jawaher Abdulla Al Qassimi, Director of SICFF, passionately describes this world out of this world: “We forget that, as kids, we never really saw the world the same way we do now. Not in the sense that we had a different understanding of it: we just perceived everything differently, we could even go so far as to say we noticed things we wouldn’t today, the colours looked fresher, our innocence gave us an unprejudiced outlook. To these kids, everything is exciting. The world is a universe of wonder. So when they film this wonder, we get a chance to look at things through their eyes, for a change– to go back in time a little bit. It is, if nothing else, enlightening.”

When collected together, the contrasts between the films by children and those by adults, the films made regionally and those from outside the Arab world, the countless variations in visual style and storytelling methodologies: all combined, they give SICFF a texture and dimensionality that makes it stand out. Jawaher adds: “Remarkably exciting and helping shape a tangible force of creative expression in the nation and the region, it can teach us and our children more than just a few things about the art of filmmaking, and more significantly, the art of communication, the nature of human interaction, and the way different cultures think. These tools are indispensable in educating our youth and our artists.”

In his film, Ice Cream, Khalid Al Abdulla tells a heart-breaking story about struggle and determination, smoothly interfacing the universe with a world he lives in, an Arab culture and beliefs: the simplicity of a child’s desire for ice cream and the desperation of not being to afford something as simple as a cone is, if nothing else, poignant, touching. To Khalid, it is about looking at the bright side of life: “I like to see positives, I like to tell stories that give hope, that make you feel good at the end. Even though Eissa is struggling at first, he forges on ahead, and the viewer goes on this emotional journey from sad to happy along with Eissa. It teaches us not to give up, just like he didn’t.”

Other filmmakers have similar views on things: show our youth the real world, but make sure they can see the positive in the grind of everyday life. With Ray Haddad’s documentary, we get a side of the UAE we don’t see much: the story of a Pakistani truck driver SayedRasoulWazir; HamadAlawar gives us the story of a father struggling with his baby for the first time in his animated take on the importance of the mother’s role in family; NouraAbdalla Al Jasmi’s playful Rhythm Of The Sands takes us on a journey of maritime heritage that is both fun and educational; Sabeel, a 20 minute adventure of two young boys and their grandmother by Khalid Al Mahmood will captivate you.

The joyous and the sad in local film gives us an invaluable insight into the scope of artistry this nation is ready to offer: from the serious to the fun, the sombre to the comical, everything’s there, and it stands out as being truly original.

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