Sharjah celebrates diversity with 40 foreign language films


A scene from the movie ‘Big Little Man.’

Gulf today, Journalist

The Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFF) continues to serve as an exciting platform for young film enthusiasts, with the eighth edition announcing an impressive roster of 40 foreign language masterpieces, which will be screened virtually from October 10 to 15.

FUNN, the Sharjah-based organization that promotes media arts learning among children and youth, said that through the SIFF 2021 film showcase, the festival will celebrate the cultural and linguistic diversity of filmmakers around the world.

Representing nearly half of the total selection of over 80 films in the 2021 SIFF Virtual Edition, foreign films in the five SIFF categories – feature films, student films, shorts, international shorts, documentaries and Animations – Category will include cinematic works ranging from exciting dramas and light comedies to those that highlight unique perspectives of childhood across cultures. Selected films target children of all ages, including ages 7 to 14 and over.

Six films, targeting children 8 years and older, are included in the Student Film category. These include the silent short film Coffin by Yuanqing Cai, Nathan Crabot, Houzhi Huang, Mikolaj Janiw, Mandimby Lebon and Theo Tran Ngoc; La Bestia, a graduation short film about a transformative train journey in Spanish; and the French, You Sold My Roller Skates ?, a delightfully charming film that offers an insightful and moving lesson in growing and letting go.

At 23 minutes, A Trip to My Friend’s Home in the Indian language, Bengali, is the longest in its category. The two English-language films made by the students include Mum’s Sweater and Goodbye Robin.

With a mix of Mandarin and English, Gina Tan’s Pencil explores the meaning of right and wrong when a friendship is put to the test; while Big Little Man by Taiwanese filmmaker Diana Chao is a gripping drama about the sense of helplessness that pushes a young boy to independence.

Other films in the category include Doubout – Standup in French by Pierre La Gall and Sarah Malléon; Timo’s Winter in Italian by Giulio Mastromauro; and Mommy’s Calf by Viktoria Runtsova from Russia. The films chosen are for the 8+ and 10+ age groups.

A total of 19 animated films, mainly in English, French, Spanish and Russian, directed by filmmakers from Argentina, New Zealand, France, Canada, Brazil, UK, USA and Belgium, among others, will captivate the young audience of the 8+ Category. Important names here include Carlos Algara and My Brother Luca by Catalina Serna; Lynn Tomlinson’s The Elephant’s Song, depicted in a hand-crafted animation that was created frame-by-frame with clay on glass and oil pastel animation.

A selection of films including Tiny T. Rex by Galen Fott and The Impossible Hug and The Snail and the Whale by Hannah Jones target toddlers up to 7 years old.

Targeting children aged 8 and over, the foreign language films in the Feature Films category include the Persian-language film Walnut, directed by Mohammadreza Haji Gholami, which tells the story of a child who feels his hands turning black in the dark. because of a “sin” he committed.

Bori by Korean director KIM Jin-yu sheds light on the life of a hearing child in a deaf family while Kings of Mulberry Street is an English comedy-drama by South African director Judy Naidoo.

SIFF 2021 has selected a selection of five European and Asian documentaries to entertain and captivate and which also aim to generate a lasting interest in gender in children aged 10+ to 14+.

Important films in this category include School by the Sea by Norwegian filmmaker Solveig Melkeraaen which captures the rainbow of sadness and excitement, resistance and resilience, loss and growth, of a child adapting to change while in Girls Talk About Football by Italian director Paola Sorrentino, six girls share their experiences of playing a predominantly male sport.

For more information on the festival’s activities and its registration process, please visit the SIFF website, or FUNN Instagram @sharjahiff.

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