Iranian filmmaker Bahman Tavoosi and Syrian director Yaser Kassab are among the winners of the Sharjah Film Platform awards, which honour exemplary narrative, documentary and experimental works across the world.
The platform, now in its third year, was held between November 14 and 21 by Sharjah Art Foundation. Film screenings, which took place online and at venues including CinemaCity and The Flying Saucer, featured more than 60 short and feature-length works. The event also included a public programme of talks and workshops.
The award winners were announced on Tuesday, November 24, as chosen by a jury panel comprised of international directors, producers and critics, including Handsworth Songs filmmaker John Akomfrah; Kerem Ayan, deputy director of Istanbul International Film Festival; Eve Gabereau, founder and chief executive of Modern Films Entertainment; and film theorist Viola Shafik.
The Names of the Flowers, directed and written by Iranian filmmaker Tavoosi, won the award for Best Narrative Feature.
The documentary sets its focus on Julia, a Bolivian teacher who is invited to share her extraordinary story about Ernesto "Che" Guevara at an event to mark the 50th anniversary of his death.
Hours before Guevara died, she gave a bowl of soup to the captured guerrilla in her classroom while he recited a poem about flowers. The invitation to Julia is soon withdrawn, however, when another woman claims the story as her own.
The film also won the Best Narrative Feature Film award at the 2019 Brussels Film Festival.
Stay Awake, Be Ready, directed by Vietnamese director-writer Pham Thien An, won the award for Best Narrative Short. The film examines how a motorbike crash is integral to the mysterious story of three young men, and previously won the Illy Best Short Film Award at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
Mothers of the Land, directed by Peru's Alvaro and Diego Sarmiento, was named Best Documentary Feature. The film follows five women from the Andean highlands in their struggle to maintain a traditional and organic way of working the land, especially in light of an ever-growing industrialisation of agriculture.
The film also shows how Peru is affected by climate change, with farmers struggling to adapt to extreme alterations in weather.
I Have Seen Nothing, I Have Seen All, directed by Syria's Kassab, won the prize for Best Documentary Short. The film unravels the relationship between distance and mourning, starting with the filmmaker, living in Scandinavia, calling his father in Aleppo to discover that his brother's grave has been moved.
The Witch's Cauldron, directed by Croatian filmmaker Branislav Jankic, nabbed Best Experimental Feature for its exploration of the cyclical pattern of violence in the Balkans. Fasten Your Seatbelts While Seated by Egyptian filmmaker Samir Radwan, meanwhile, won Best Experimental Short. The six-minute film follows a man as he remembers that he had wanted to fly before knowing how to run.
The Sharjah Art Foundation also named filmmaker and scriptwriter Abdulla Al Kaabi as the winner of the Pitching Forum Prize. The Fujairah-born filmmaker will receive $54,000 to help develop his script, Camel Tears, into a feature film.
Production on Al Kaabi’s film is expected to begin early next year, with shooting taking place across Sharjah.