Pandemic has not diminished the magic of cinema: SIFF

Pandemic has not diminished the magic of cinema: SIFF

Pandemic has not diminished the magic of cinema: SIFF

SHARJAH, 15th October, 2021 – The magic of cinema has prevailed, despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic, observed two noted professionals in the global film industry, during a virtual panel discussion held Thursday at the eighth edition of the Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFF).

Discussing some of the transformative changes the pandemic has brought to the global film industry, Mustafa Abbas, an award-winning Emirati writer and director, and Maria-Christina Villaseñor, Programming Director and Chief Curator of the New York International Children’s Film Festival, commended SIFF for championing the cause of cinema by navigating to a creative format and keeping alive the spark of interest amongst audiences.

The discussion entitled, ‘Future of the Film Industry and Filmmaking’, was moderated by media presenter, Balqees Saber.

“Virtual film festivals are not limited by geography; the reach is much broader,” said Maria-Christina Villaseñor.

“The ready sharing of content is an added benefit, as is the opportunity to continue to forge collaborations within the industry.

Today, we are having meaningful conversations online as it offers greater accessibility to the community and enables us to engage in deep dialogues into things that matter, such as, for instance, the call for a greater representation of Middle Eastern characters and stories from the MENA region, or how to set up international co-productions.


The present disruptions in global filmmaking have only accelerated a transformation that was already underway or was imminent, such as the simultaneous release of films on multiple platforms, said Mustafa Abbas, director of The Long Game.

“What matters is not the format, but the fact that the passion and drive for good cinema continues to inspire us.

The importance we give to this art form will allow it to flourish and survive.

The UAE, for instance, has seen a proliferation of short films in recent times.

This is good, and it is important is that we continue to nurture this passion for making movies and telling and sharing stories,” Abbas said.

The pandemic has also forced the industry to have conversations about delivery and how the audience experiences the magic of cinema, added Villaseñor.

“Here, in New York, in the post-pandemic phase, I have seen a huge appetite and enthusiasm for going to the theatre, and enjoy the communal experience of watching a movie.

Although the digital format makes so many things possible and accessible, the real question to ponder is that of finding the right balance – the support and prominence that digital platforms can offer versus the theatrical experience, especially for the success of independent films,” she said.

Although technology has made the world smaller and boosted capabilities, the panel members concluded that what the pandemic has proved is, ‘how much we all need each other to collaborate and create art.

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