Sharjah Film Platform 2019 - Film Highlights

This is a follow up to my previous post about Sharjah Film Platform where I scheduled the list of films and schedule.

The Sharjah Film Platform film screenings are grouped into 23 programmes, and below is one highlight per programme. This is by no means a best of list, but more of a taster of film selection. I also included the dates for each programme too, so you can click on it to see the complete programs and timings.

The festival is on between January 18 - 26, there’s a lot on offer and it’s truly a wonderful opportunity to dive into an eclectic line up of films.


January 18 & January 26

Director: Abdulrahman Al Madani
2019 | United Arab Emirates | Narrative | 16 min
Arabic with English subtitles

A neglected housewife’s constant attempts to regain her short-tempered husband’s interest in their marriage prove futile. Influenced by her best friend, she realises her efforts need to stretch beyond a wholesome meal.


January 19 & January 26

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Spaces of Exception 
Directors: Matt Peterson and Malek Rasamny
2018 | USA, Lebanon, Palestine | Documentary | 90 min
English and Arabic with English subtitles

Profiling the American Indian reservation alongside the Palestinian refugee camp, Spaces of Exception was filmed from 2014 to 2017 in Arizona, New Mexico, New York and South Dakota as well as Lebanon and the West Bank. It is an attempt to understand the significance of the land—its memory and divisions—and the conditions for life, community and sovereignty. 


January 19 & January 22

Cairo Station
Director: Youssef Chahine 
1958 | Egypt | Narrative | 73 min 
Arabic with English subtitles 

Chahine plays a disabled news vendor whose obsession with a beautiful young lemonade stand vendor leads to violence.

Cairo Station marked a new approach to Egyptian cinema in the 1950s, tackling controversial subject matter and drawing on formal and thematic elements from both neo-realism and German expressionism.


January 19 & January 22

New Year's Eve 
Director: Salah Elgazzar
2016 | Egypt | Narrative | 11 min
Arabic with English subtitles

Two children selling packages of tissues at traffic lights in Cairo dream of spending New Year’s Eve in a theme park as other children do.

In order to enter the park, they need to sell enough tissues to buy new shoes. 


January 19 & January 23

Director: Ali Hammoud
2016 | Lebanon | Documentary | 70 min
Arabic with English subtitles

Two truck drivers, one Lebanese and one Egyptian, make their living on asphalt roads that stretch miles across the ever-changing Arab landscape. Asphalt takes viewers on a journey to examine the subtle relationship between man and machine, providing a reflection on life from behind the wheel.


January 19 & January 23

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Director: Ahmed Hasan Ahmed
2017 | United Arab Emirates | Narrative | 22 min
Arabic with English subtitles 

Baheet is a cook celebrating delicious flavours by day and an oud musician by night. Bahia is an undertaker working with perfumes, scents and camphor who lives with death every day. Two people with strikingly different jobs reside under one roof, but their intellectual differences and lifestyles come between them.


January 20 & January 23


Director: Neli Ružić
2018 | Croatia | Experimental | 18 min
Serbo-Croatian with English subtitles 

Nowhere explores the personal experience of departing, returning and rebuilding identity. Neli Ružić’s sculpture Before the Dawn and Bogdan Bogdanović’s monument The Guardian of Freedom, installed at the Klis Fortress at different times, are the backbones of this film, triggering a kind of time archaeology and reactivating an invisible and possibly erased history.


January 20 & January 24

I Have a Picture: Film No. 1001 in the Life of the Oldest Extra in the World 
Director: Mohamed Zedan
2018 | Egypt | Documentary | 72 min
Arabic with English subtitles

Through the interactions between two film directors and a longtime film extra, this documentary questions the distinction between real and fake. A game of power between assistant director and director leads to the realisation that we all live our lives as extras, ‘accessories’ in the background who wait for the chance to become a star.


January 20 & January 24

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The Land 
Director: Youssef Chahine
1969 | Egypt Narrative | 130 min
Arabic with English subtitles 

The Land traces the struggle of a group of peasant farmers in the 1930s to protect their fields and their livelihoods from a corrupt pasha. Adapted by Chahine from a novel published soon after Egypt’s 1952 revolution, the film offers a rallying cry for an Arab world demoralised by the Israeli expansion of the 1960s.


January 20 & January 23

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Eye Test
Director: Sudha Padmaja Francis
2017 | India | Narrative ǀ 15 min
Malayalam with English subtitles

Eye Test explores the affective atmosphere of a mother-daughter relationship, the mother’s death and the daughter’s bereavement through the realm of memory.

The narrative delves into the mindscape of 27-year-old Nivedita when she visits an eye clinic.

The clinic becomes a sensorial space for her, invoking memories of her single mother and her own lonely childhood.


January 20 & January 22

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Home Abroad
Director: Boan Wang
2017 | Belgium | Documentary ǀ 11 min
Mandarin with English subtitles

A complicated political situation drives a Taiwanese filmmaker to leave his country. Although studying and living in Belgium provides him with a sense of liberty and stability, feeling that he does not belong makes him homesick. Through self-reflection and self-questioning, he investigates his identity crisis as a Taiwanese millennial.


January 20 & January 22

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Chronoscope, 1952 or 1953, 11pm. (I) 
Director: Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck
2017 | Germany | Documentary ǀ 34 min

Craftily edited broadcast footage from CBS’s Longines-sponsored public affairs show from the early years of American television covers issues such as the Korean War, the intensifying Israeli-Palestinian crisis and the draft of the United Nations Human Rights Charter.


January 20 & January 25

Director: Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen
2013 | India | Documentary | 40 min
Hindi with English subtitles

Hari, Freezak and Sandeep from Khirkri, New Delhi are part of a rap and breakdancing group called Madness Crew, which they formed with other youths from their neighbourhood. Despite poor living standards and limited opportunities, the three youths are striving for higher ground, and their art provides them with glimpses of autonomy.


January 21 & January 25

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Before I Forget 
Director: Mariam Mekiwi
2018 | Germany | Experimental | 31 min
Arabic with English subtitles 

In this science fiction story set in a coastal region, the water level is rising, a captain disappears, a disciple takes a journey to cut off an internet cable, an amphibian woman appears at the shore and a scientist tries to gather members of a secret society of amphibians to save the world.


January 21 & January 24


Video Home System
Director: Sharlene Bamboat
2018 | Canada | Experimental | 19 min

Video Home System traces the convergence of popular culture and politics in Pakistan during the 1980s and 1990s. This video showcases connections between pop culture and nationalism and traces how bootleg economies kept the cinema industry alive during periods of censorship.


January 21 & January 26

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The Sixth Day
Director: Youssef Chahine
Cast: Dalida, Mohsen Mohy El Deen, Youssef Chahine
1986 | Egypt | Narrative ǀ 105 min 
Arabic with English subtitles 

Based on the novel by Andrée Chedid, the film is set during the Egyptian cholera epidemic of 1947. Sadika takes care of her bedridden husband and her cholera-infected son. She develops a relationship with the young street performer Okka, whose life-affirming spirit is a welcome challenge to the atmosphere of death that overwhelms her impoverished Cairo neighbourhood.


January 21 & January 25

Home Exercises 
Director: Sarah Friedland
2017 | USA | Experimental | 22 min

Using the formal structure of a home workout video, this hybrid documentary and dance film investigates the gestural habits of aging individuals and looks at the physicality of aging as choreography.

In its invitation to viewers to move, the film stages choreographies between the mise-en-scène and the home dweller.


January 21 & January 23

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I’m ± Here 
Director: Nadim Choufi
2018 | United Arab Emirates | Experimental ǀ 5 min 
Arabic with English subtitles  

Based on over 500 chat archives from dating applications, I'm ± Here explores how intimacy in multiple Arab countries functions through (in)visibility and a sustained love language. As moving images allude to suggested meeting spots, all discoverable from surveillance cameras, users are operating simultaneously on a platform of connectivity and surveillance. 


January 21 & January 23

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Reddishblue Memories 
Director: Iván Argote
2017 | France | Documentary | 12 min
Spanish with English subtitles

Reddishblue Memories speculates on a rumor that the Eastman Kodak Company’s switch from Kodachrome to Ektachrome in the Cold War era of the late 1960s was done for ideological reasons.

Over time, Kodachrome photographs became reddish (the color of communism), but the Ektachrome process eventually gave photos a blue tinge. 


January 21 & January 24

Cactus Flower 
Director: Hala Elkoussy
2017 | Egypt | Narrative | 104 min
Arabic with English subtitles

Cactus Flower is the story of three strangers who come together after a banal catastrophe leaves them homeless in Cairo, a city on the verge.


January 22 & January 25

Kindil el Bahr 
Director: Damien Ounouri
2016 | Kuwait | Narrative | 40 min
Arabic with English subtitles

At the beach with her family, Nfissa, a young mother, is drowned by a group of young men while swimming. Nobody seems to witness her disappearance, and as fear takes over the population, the police suggest that Nfissa may have morphed into a kindil, a nautical creature whose appearances have been reported elsewhere in the region.


January 22 & January 24

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A Dream
Director: Ghadeer Mohamed
2017 | Bahrain | Narrative ǀ 7 min
Arabic with English subtitles

Noor and Kawther are childhood friends who share their dreams with one another. Would their friendship be affected by the circumstances of one of their families? Would their dreams be altered by family incidents? And could children have bigger and more mature dreams than adults could ever imagine?


January 23 & January 25


Directors: Parastoo Anoushahpour and Faraz Anoushahpour
2018 | Canada | Experimental | 21 min
Persian with English subtitles

Mediated through screens and photography, Chooka weaves original material with elements of archival documentary footage and fragments of films by Bahram Beyzaie to explore the entangled relationships between a stranger and a host, a factory and a village, a film crew and a family, foreign trees and a landscape.