Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival Depicts Heart-Wrenching Refugee Saga through the Power of Cinema

The showcased films gave refugee children both a voice and
opportunity to share their experiences with the world

SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates–(BUSINESS WIRE)–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.

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

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

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.

About FUNN:

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


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