Sharjah Film Platform 4 opens with a rich fare of screenings

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The fourth edition of the Sharjah Film Platform (SFP4) organized by the Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) got off to a flying start on Friday (November 19, 2021) with an opening reception and three film screenings.

The evening screenings at the open-air Mirage Cinema included the premiere of ‘The Myth of Manila’ (2021) by Janus Victoria as well as Pelin Tan and Anton Vidokle’s work in progress ‘Notes for a film about Gilgamesh’ (2021), both of which were supported by SFP Short Film Production Grants.

The evening concluded with the regional premiere of the award-winning ‘Zahori’ by Marí Alessandrini.

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Janus Victoria, the Director of ‘The Myth of Manila,’ in comments after the screening of her docufiction, said that the generous film grant from SAF was a “rare opportunity to make a film during a pandemic.”

“While the very process of filmmaking was full of uncertainty, during the pandemic, the uncertainty was increased hundredfold.”

‘The Myth of Manila’ was a prequel to another feature film she was planning on doing, she said.

The main thesis of o ‘The Myth of Manila,’ according to the director was that “Every city is a myth. The pandemic removed that sheen and showed the city for what is. For the first time, people wanted to actually get out of a place that was not healthy.”

Based on actual news reports, the story line of ‘The Myth of Manila,’ of a news reporter who is personally dealing with the health ramifications of coronavirus, while at the same time maneuvering around the city which she used to know like the palm of her hand, is gripping for the audience and according to the director “not far from actual reality.”

Pelin Tan and Anton Vidokle in ‘Notes for a film about Gilgamesh’ traverses a landscape that covers myth, afterlife, and ends in a contemporary landscape. It is indeed an audacious and daring cinematic journey.

The backdrop of ‘Zahori,’ on the other hand is the Patagonian steppe a grey wind sweeps the whole area. Mora, the 13-years-old protagonist, wants to be a “gaucho.” She rebels against school and affirms herself to her parents, Swiss Italian ecologists, whose dream of autonomy turns into a nightmare.

Mora will goes deep into steppe to help her only friend Nazareno, an old Mapuche who has lost his horse, Zahorí.

Marí Alessandrini’s mastery over the medium is so great that the landscape, nature, animals, and the people combine to grip the minds of the viewer.

The Foundation’s annual film festival supports emerging and established filmmakers in the MENASA region and beyond through film screenings and a public program of talks and workshops, grants, and professional development initiatives.

SFP4 which runs till November 27, 2021, features screenings in cinemas and online of more than 50 films, including world and regional premiers, culminating in the presentation of awards for films submitted to an international open call for short and feature length films in narrative, documentary and experimental genres.

“The annual Sharjah Film Platform plays an increasingly critical role in the realisation of our commitment to supporting and presenting the work of emerging filmmakers from the UAE, the MENASA region and beyond. New programs, such as the Industry Hub, introduced last year, have already helped projects by regional filmmakers into production and we continue to offer grants to support the making of new work,” said SAF Director Hoor Al Qasimi.

“This year we introduce curated film programs and a series of workshops and events for children. By bringing together local, regional, and international filmmakers and audiences, the Film Platform gives us an opportunity to celebrate experimentation and creativity and to explore critical topics such as representation, identity and belonging.”

Read more: Farmanfarmaian’s ‘Khayyam Fountain’ on view at Al Hamriyah Studios in Sharjah

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