The Sharjah Art Foundation recognized outstanding films in the Experimental, Narrative and Documentary categories at the recently concluded Sharjah Film Platform 5 (SFP5) at an award ceremony held in 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 $54,400 (Dh200,000 ) to turn their Arabic language feature-length script into a film.
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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 program.
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 honorable mention.
‘Copacabana Papers’ (2021) by Fernando Portabales was adjudged the Best Experimental Feature Film.
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.”
‘How to Reverse a Spell: The Promise of an Archive’ (2022) by Yasmine Benabdallah won the prize for Best Experimental Short Film.
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.”
‘INCIPINECE’ (2021) by Yaroslav Bulavin received Honorable Mention (Experimental) .
The jury selected this “haunting and mesmerizing 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.’
The Best Narrative Feature Film prize went to ‘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.”
The Best Narrative Short Film was ‘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.”
‘The Recess’ (2021) by Navid Nikkahah Azad received Honorable Mention (Narrative). 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.”
‘Veins of the Amazon’ (2021) by Alvaro Sarmiento, Diego Sarmiento and Terje Toomistu was adjudged Best Documentary Feature Film.
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 prize went to ‘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.”
‘As I want’ (2021) by Samaher Alqadi received Honorable Mention (Documentary). The jury honored 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.
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