Sharjah Film Platform 2019: The screenings and workshops to see and do

There will be more than 140 screenings. Here are the ones you won't want to miss

A still from 'Shouted from the Rooftops', a short film by Iranian-Kurdish filmmaker Beri Shalmashi. Courtesy Sharjah Film Platform
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The first Sharjah Film Platform (SFP) gets underway tomorrow (Friday January 18). And with more than 140 screenings, as well as an extensive programme of talks and workshops, taking place in four stunning venues across the emirate, it promises to be a joyous few days for cinephiles.

SFP, which runs from January 18-26, features films from more than 40 countries in some 30 languages. Some will make you laugh, others will have you in tears. But each of them should persuade you to look at the world in a slightly different way.

Added to this, the talks and workshops will provide an insight into the filmmaking process and hopefully encourage you to pick up a camera. Who knows — next year it could be your film screening at SFP.

Even the most dedicated film buffs among you won’t be able to get to everything. The best advice we can offer is to step outside of your comfort zone and go to screenings you would ordinarily ignore. It is no exaggeration to say that even the shortest film can be life-changing.

So, with that in mind, here are some of the screenings and events that are, surely, unmissable.


'Laymoon' (2019) and 'Maryam' (2019)

Where: Mirage City Cinema
When: Friday January 18 (9pm)

Where: Sharjah Institute of Theatrical Arts
When: Saturday January 26 (3pm)

One of the great innovations of SFP is the Short Film Production Grants, which will be awarded annually to ambitious filmmakers after an open call for submissions. The winners this year are Abdulrahman Al Madani, director of Laymoon, and Mohammed Al Hammadi, director of Maryam. Both films will be screened on the opening night, followed by discussions with the young Emirati directors.

Laymoon traces the disintegration of a marriage, in which a short-tempered husband refuses to be appeased by his diligent and doting wife. Spurred on by her best friend, the woman realises it is time to broaden her horizons beyond the domestic chores that have been shackling her.

Maryam follows a young Emirati actor, who has travelled to New York to pursue her dreams, which are then put on hold following the death of her father. Meanwhile, her mother is pressuring her to marry.

Both films are in Arabic with English subtitles.

'Kilauea: Pele’s Domain' (2018)

Where: Mirage City Cinema
When: Saturday January 20 (9pm)

Where: Al Hamra Cinema
When: Wednesday January 23 (6pm)

American director JoAnn Gillerman's 'Kilauea: Pele’s Domain'.
American director JoAnn Gillerman's 'Kilauea: Pele’s Domain'.

Kilauea is the most active volcano on Hawaii and Pele is the Hawaiian goddess of fire. This film by American director JoAnn Gillerman has been shot over three decades, as the volcano has erupted time and again. At its heart, though, this is a human story — as awe-inspiring as Kilauea is, its near constant belching of lava has claimed many people’s homes. It's a beautiful film that explores our relationship with nature, told largely through the eyes of a Hawaiian woman at an evacuation centre. No one knows what Kilauea will do next.

'A Stroll Down Sunflower Lane' (2016)

Where: Al Hamra Cinema
When: Wednesday January 23 (9pm)

This quietly devastating look at memory and nostalgia by Egyptian filmmaker Mayye Zayed is a re-enactment of the times she spent as a child with her late grandfather. "As he was getting older and losing his memories, she was growing up and building hers," the programme notes read. Shot on Super 8 and VHS cameras, A Stroll Down Sunflower Lane might seem like a deeply personal, home-made video but it is actually a profound study of what it means to be alive. It has already been screened at the Moscow International Experimental Film Festival, Kasseler Dokfest in Germany, and the Cairo Video Festival.

The film is in Arabic with English subtitles.

'Shouted from the Rooftops' (2017)

Where: Africa Hall
When: Monday January 21 (6pm)

Where: Mirage City Cinema
When: Thursday January 24 (9pm)

In its seven minutes, Shouted from the Rooftops, from Iranian-Kurdish filmmaker Beri Shalmashi, manages to capture all the complexities of a tragic love story. Set in a war-torn Kurdish town, a young man waits for his lover to return from the front-line. "When everything is ruined," he asks himself, "then what's the point of a revolution?" Brief and brutal.

The film is in Kurdish with English subtitles.

'These Silences are all the Words' (2018)

Where: Sharjah Institute of Theatrical Arts
When: Monday January 21 (6pm)

Where: Mirage City Cinema
When: Wednesday January 23 (9pm)

Pakistani director Madiha Aijaz turns her lens onto the public libraries of Karachi, from the librarians and the visitors to the buildings themselves and how they fit into the urban environment. Intertwined with this story is the way in which the Urdu language, with its history and lyricism, is slowly being replaced by English in Pakistan. Aijaz uses the libraries as a way of exploring the city's history since the 19th century. These Silences are all the Words is an official selection at this year's International Film Festival in Rotterdam.

The film is in Urdu with English subtitles.

Talks and Workshops

Filmmaking Workshop: Screenwriting Essentials

Where: Gallery 2, Al Mureijah Square
When: Friday January 18 (1-4pm)

For any aspiring filmmakers out there, this is unmissable. From concept to plot, and dialogue to structure, this workshop provides all the material you need to go away and start making films.

To register, email

Film Critics Meet-up

Where: Fen Café & Restaurant, Al Mureijah Square
When: Saturday January 19 (3.30-5.30pm)

The National's social media journalist Faisal Salah Al Zaabi leads a discussion about film criticism, as well as exploring the challenges faced by emerging filmmakers in the region. Come and chat to like-minded people.

For more information, click here


Read more:

Haiti filmmakers struggle to keep cinema alive

Sharjah Art Foundation launches a new annual film festival

Middle of what? The tricky business of labelling regional art