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Now Sharjah joins the film fraternity

By Rachel McArthur


After Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it is now Sharjah’s turn to shine with its very own film festival being held today and tomorrow in the emirate.

The Prerna Film Festival (PFF) 2008 is a joint effort by the Sharjah Institute of Art and Theatre and Prerna, an association that organises cultural events in the region. Among those in the emirate to celebrate this launch event will be internationally renowned filmmakers CS Venketeshwaran and Anand Patwardhan.

“The film festivals in Dubai and Abu Dhabi made us realise Sharjah was lacking a major movie event that could benefit fans. This is why we decided to present PFF. We think it is a great way of getting more people to discover what Sharjah has to offer,” PFF Chairman Abdul Khader Kuzhiyil told Emirates Business.

What sets PFF apart from other festivals in the UAE is its content, he said. The Middle Eastern International Film Festival, and Dubai International Film Festival screen international productions, and the upcoming Gulf Film Festival will showcase local talent, but PFF aims to explore movies from developing nations in the context of a Hollywood hegemony.

The first edition kicks off with a series of short films from India, Brazil and Argentina, alongside a showcase of work by young Arab filmmakers. Venketeshwaran and Patwardhan will be the chief guests, while the festival will be inaugurated by DIFF’s artistic director, Masoud Amralla Al Ali.

Over the weekend, PFF will feature a series of feature and short-length films. Two highlights are Patwardhan’s Ribbons for Peace and Central do Brasil (Central Station) by Brazilian director Walter Salles, better known for his work on Paris Je T’aime and The Motorcycle Diaries. Made in the aftermath of India and Pakistan’s nuclear tests, Ribbons for Peace counters a pro-nuclear music video made by the party in power in India at the time. Central do Brasil tells the story of a former school teacher who writes letters for illiterate people at a railway station in Rio de Janeiro.

Other films at the PFF include The Water Guard, Mirrors of Silence, Al Ghobna, Stuck Face, Fear, Arabana, and Images You Didn’t See.


Indian documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan is perhaps best known for his anti-war works – Ribbons for Peace, and War and Peace.

His movies look at what patriotism means in a nuclear world. They question why it is unpatriotic not to worship the bomb.

Patwardhan has been making movies for nearly 30 years, and his political documentaries portray diverse and controversial issues at the crux of social and political life in India.

Many of his films were at one time or another banned by television channels in India, and became the subject of litigation by Patwardhan, who successfully challenged the censorship rulings in court.

He has participated in the anti-Vietnam War movement and was a volunteer in Caesar Chavez’s United Farm Worker’s Union.