In seeking to raise understanding and awareness of the refugee crisis, the sixth edition of Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival (SICFF 2018) organized by FUNN Establishment – Sharjah Media Arts for Youth and Children, has selected thirteen short films that can inspire and provoke people to act, and establish an understanding of what its like to be forced to leave homes and countries, with no where to go.
Beginning from 14th October until 19th October, the festival audiences can anticipate films that seek to bridge the understanding of displacement crisis. Featuring a variety of issues, SICFF has taken a significant stride in establishing a platform to propel change. Several films are supported by UNHCR such as: The Dream Diaries; Syria: A Young Girl Scarred by War; Ethiopia: Nyahok’s Quest; Lebanon: Little Omar Flies of Finland; RefuSHE Kenya’s Safe house; Sudanese Refugee girl chases education dream in Egypt; Deaf Refugee boys discover new world of sound; and Refugee Taekwando. Two films are supported by Lebanese Beyond Association: Potato Girls & Fatima’s Journey. The film titled, ‘Safa’ was supported by UNICEF and ‘Prejudgement’ was supported by FUNN in collaboration with Diaa Mala’eb.
‘The Dream Diaries’ is a collaborative endeavour between UNHCR, Humans of Amsterdam, and Fetching Tigers to create a space where refugees and asylum-seeking children can tell their stories. Tales of refugees from Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland are filled with hopes, dreams, and ambitions.
The next film titled, ‘A young girl scarred by war’, talks about an eight-year old Wafaa who was severely burned and scarred when a gas cylinder blasted next to her. She currently lives in a temporary shelter for displaced Syrians on the outskirts of Aleppo. The plight of young women is a recurring theme, as the third film, ‘Nyahok’s quest’ narrates a story of ambition and resilience in the midst of crisis. A 16-year-old Nyahok has a dream to be a pilot but how will she get an education to make her dreams come true?
Other entrants in the SICFF includes a story of Omar and his sister Majid who were born in Syria with a growth-hormone deficiency and neither can grow without continuous treatment, which was available for free back home. Since displacement, they haven’t been able to afford the treatment in Lebanon and neither have NGOs and aid organizations. The film is titled: “Lebanon: Little Omar Flies to Finland,” which offers some hope.
“RefuSHE Kenya’s Safe House” is a short life-affirming documentary that follows resilient young female refugees who have the courage to strut proudly down a runway ramp in the face of their troubles. This film features Angelina Jolie, who is UNHCR’s special envoy.
Joining the list of screenings, an informative titled film, ‘Sudanese refugee girl chases education dream in Egypt,’ records the remarkable tale of Nousa whose ambition was to secure an education for herself and pave a future for her family. Another tale documents Mohamed and Issam, Syrian refugee brothers, who have been deaf since birth, but a viral video propelled their case to the spotlight which led to Kuwaiti Red Crescent to fund a life-changing operation. ‘Deaf refugee boys discover a new world of sound,’ the aptly titled film promises.
The next film ‘Refugee Taekwondo,’ documents an initiative launched by UNHCR and the World Taekwondo Federation where two Syrian sisters, Rayan and Zeinab are learning to defend themselves and build confidence in Jordan’s Azraq Refugee camp.
‘Farah,’ is a short documentary by the Road Media team who introduces the audience to a little girl full of joy and talent, directed by Syrian Refugee, Qassim Al Shameh. The next entry tells the story of Khadija, a 10-year old refugee, who battles a life-threatening diabetes that was brought upon by chronic PTSD from the experience in Syria’s civil war, and her best friend Rana, who works full-time in Lebanon’s potato fields to feed their families. The film titled, ‘Potato Girls,’ documents their determination in attending school even after an 8-hour shift at work.
The film ‘Fatima’s Journey,’ tells a harrowing story of a twelve-year old girl who tries to rebuild her life after an escape from the Syrian war. Fatima illustrates the bond of family as a key element in holding millions of shattered lives together, including her dream of pursuing an education in music.
The last two stories showcase the plight of young children. Six years ago, a young girl was uprooted with her entire family from Syria and sought a refugee camp in Kurdistan where they were cramped in a canvas tent and prospects of returning home looked dim. The film, ‘Safa,’ tells the tale of her plight six years later. Titled ‘Prejudgement,’ the last film is the proclamation of injustice that occurs against refugee children. Yazan lives in Lebanon and goes to school with his Lebanese and Palestinian friends when one day his friends discover that he is a Syrian. What happens next is documented in this film.
All the mentioned films will be screened at Al Jawaher Reception & Convention Centre and Zero 6 Mall, Al Majaz Waterfront, Al Zora and Last Exit in Al Khawaneej, Dubai. #SICFF18.