SICFF offers children a fun cinematic experience



Sheikha Jawaher: Festival reinforces Sharjah’s commitment to upholding its child-friendly city status

SHARJAH is gearing up for a real fun experience for children in the upcoming Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival (SICFF) allowing them to roam the realms of their imagination with a quick look at a past that could shape their future.

Literally a FUNN experience the, SICFF is a first-of-its-kind gathering for children’s cinema in the UAE and the Arab region, organized by the FUNN Establishment — Sharjah Media Arts for Youth and Children.

SICFF’s sixth edition, from Oct. 14-19, is curated by FUNN, an establishment dedicated to creating a future generation of creative artists in the media and film industries by promoting new media works and films made by children and young filmmakers in the UAE.

The festival offers an opportunity to children to be part of the cinematic experience, through workshops where participants get hands-on experience in camera techniques, writing scenario, basics of filmmaking and other topics. It also includes highly advanced technologies relating to stop-motion, animation and special effects.

SICFF will present professionals from all around the world to ensure that children benefit from the finest expertise.

Its larger goal is to foster talent through participation in international film festivals and conferences and form a close-knit network of talented young people who can share experiences and expertise on a global scale.

In the 2017 edition, the festival had professionals from Disney and Game of Thrones to conduct workshops. One of the festival’s opening ceremony speakers was Jacob Tremblay, the young teenage actor who starred in the movie "Room" and "Wonder".

This year, SICFF offers 135 movies from over 20 different countries and more than 30 premiere films.

The SICFF, launched in 2013, is an exclusive space for young Emiratis and expats to come in and challenge their creative imagination, learn more about films as well as explore their interests in the field.

While lauding the city’s efforts to provide space to children to be creative, Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, director of FUNN and SICFF, said: “Sharjah has leveraged the achievements of the local, regional and international children’s film industries to promote this festival. FUNN promotes media arts in general with a particular focus on cinema.

“Our main objective is to empower the UAE’s youth to be able to produce quality Arabic films that are enjoyed by audiences worldwide, and place the Arab movie industry alongside the best in the world.”

“Through a selection of international films screened every year at SICFF, we seek to show our youngsters the beauty of cultural diversity, and instill in them the humane values of love, peace, and coexistence. The festival reinforces Sharjah’s commitment to upholding its Child-friendly City status,” she added.

Sheikha Jawaher’s stress on Sharjah’s commitment was largely based on the fact that the city understands the formative role cinema plays in personality development of children, and has taken upon itself the mission of offering children and young adults the best cinematic experiences as well as professional training in the media arts.

Projection of cinema

The story of cinema began in 1911, when the famous American cartoonist and animator Winsor McCay introduced to the world one of the earliest animated films “Little Nemo”, followed by “Gertie the Dinosaur” in 1914. In the same year, John Randolph Bray, an American animator, introduced the assembly-line production technology to the world of animation, increasing efficiency and lowering the cost of production.

By 1915, American filmmakers began to produce animated films. One of the eminent artists, Max Fleischer, created some of animation world’s biggest classics like “Koko the Clown”, "Betty Boop" and "Popeye the Sailor Man”.

The advent of the cartoon film

Coinciding with the end of silent film era, Walt Disney Productions produced the first animated cartoon movies “Alice in Wonderland” in 1951, followed by “Mickey Mouse” and “Funny Little Bunnies”.

Walt Disney and animation films

“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, the earliest Walt Disney animated feature film, was released in 1937 with great success. In 1940, the American animation studio produced “Pinocchio”, while Fleischer Studios produced “Gulliver's Travels”.

With children being drawn towards the dangers of being exposed to adult, violent or inappropriate content, The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), previously known as the British Board of Film Censors, was founded by the film industry in 1912 to play the role of a national film classification and censorship board. In 1935, “Emil and the Detectives”, was released as the first movie for children in the UK.

Cinema after WW II

The children’s film industry in Europe witnessed remarkable success in the post-World War II era, with the establishment of the first children's film studio in Russia and the release of great cinematic content for them, including “The Magic Fish” and “The Land of Toys”, in addition to others produced in Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Denmark and rest of Europe.

A thriving industry

The children’s film industry (cartoons and animation) has birthed some of the most important technological advances and innovations in the organization, processing and presentation of films, which has led to multimillion dollar international box office hits rub shoulders with mainstream cinema. This is why children’s films have slowly and steadily dawned the avatar of ‘family movies’, owing to their mass appeal.

One of the biggest validations came in from the Academy Awards, which has dedicated two categories, namely “Best Animated Feature Film” (Coco, 2018 winner) and “Best Animated Short Film” (Dear Basketball, 2018 winner) to the genre.