Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival Depicts Heart-Wrenching Refugee Saga through the Power of Cinema
As millions continue to flee crisis in search of a better life, Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival showcased stories of refugee children told through their own perspective. The films received a dedicated screening during the festival, which runs from October 23 to 28, and presented the views and experiences of war’s youngest victims.
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The 11 refugee films held under the category “Films Made By Refugee Children” were the result of stop-motion animation workshops led by children’s animation trainer, Diaa Malaeb, at several refugee camps. The Lebanese native has followed the Syrian refugee crisis closely over the years, and felt the best way to help young refugees combat their plight was through creative expression. Sabine Choucair, a social therapist and active member of international theatre organisations also helped train the children to develop visually stunning narratives, and both trainers conducted regular workshops and classes to aid refugee youth express their concerns, doubts, hopes and dreams, giving them a chance to enrich their talent and pursue what they love.
Using art as a form of therapeutic release, the children managed to capture their experiences about losing family members and homes, living through terrorist attacks, being displaced, leaving loved ones behind, moving to refugee camps, rebuilding their lives, and struggling to make ends meet. An incredibly powerful segment at SICFF this year, these poignant films had the power to made audiences feel a wide range of raw emotions.
Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, Director of FUNN and of SICFF, said, “Our main motive this year is to highlight human and children’s rights issues. In light of the worsening refugee crisis and the wave of migration of thousands of displaced persons and the tragic circumstances experienced by many refugee children, we have seen a number film entries that leave a deep, foreboding echo in this year’s audiences.”
While each film was uniquely thought-provoking, it was ‘Ahmad’ by Rama Charbaji of Lebanon that brought specific attention to life as a refugee. Similarly, ‘Best Friends Forever’, a short animation film made by a group of youngsters living in Lebanon, portrays a dedication to art amidst conflict. Finally, ‘Cicada’, by Yousef el Chemali, is another masterpiece that reflects the every day lives of displaced youth in Beirut.
Each film narrated a tale of loss, distress, and a sheer longing to return home. However, at the centre of these creations was a message of everlasting hope—one of which refugee children have proven they are not willing to let go.
Founded under the patronage of HH Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, FUNN is a Sharjah-based government organisation dedicated to promoting media arts among children and youth in Sharjah and the UAE.
FUNN aims to develop media arts (filmmaking, photography, graphic design and animation). It also aims to promote youth awareness about modern media forms, as well as to foster and nurture a future promising generation of creative artists in media and film.
About Sharjah International Children's Film Festival:
Sharjah International Children's Film Festival is a project of FUNN - Sharjah Media Arts for Children and Youth, a Sharjah government under the generous patronage of Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs. The festival, the first of its kind in the UAE and the Gulf region, aims to promote media literacy among children and young adults and encourage their creativity. It also aims to educate the next generation about film, and give youngsters a chance to see the best of Arab and international cinema, so as to build a strong national film industry.
*Source: ME NewsWire
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