Books, shows, awards: Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, Sharjah Animation Festival return on May 1

File photo of a previous edition of the Reading Festival
Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: The 15th Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF 2024) and the 2nd edition of the Sharjah Animation Conference (SAC) are set to kick off tomorrow at Expo Centre Sharjah. Organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), the festival will run till May 12, while the animation conference will conclude on May 5.

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Diverse programme

This year, under the theme ‘Once Upon a Hero’, SCRF 2024 will feature an array of over 1,500 cultural, creative, and edutainment activities led by 265 guests representing 25 countries, alongside the participation of 186 publishers from 20 nations. The 12-day festival will be filled with a number of speeches with industry leaders focused on the publishing sector, especially within children’s literature. Attendees can also expect discussions on fostering reading habits and addressing the various obstacles faced by the regional and global book industry.

The festival will welcome visitors with varying schedules throughout the week, open from 9am to 8pm (Monday to Thursday), 4pm to 9pm on Fridays, and over the weekend, the festival will be open from 9am to 9pm.

Shows and performances

The international event covers diverse topics such as sustainability, fashion, crafts, music, and more. Visitors can also look forward to 205 shows and performances, including plays and roaming displays, presented by 19 groups representing 13 countries spanning the globe.

Among the productions that will be staged at the SCRF 2024 Theatre are the Kuwaiti play ‘Your Choice’ and ‘Hum Bhi Agar Bacche Hote’ by Pakistani playwright Waseem Badami, which inject humour and creativity into real-life situations, highlighting matters significant to children, young adults and their parents alike.

The festival will also feature ‘Tribute to Moin Akhtar,’ directed by the renowned Anwar Maqsood. This production serves as a tribute to Moin Akhtar’s legacy, offering audiences a chance to honour and celebrate his life and contributions.

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Creativity and communication

The SCRF 2024 cultural program is set to shine a spotlight on the role of nurturing children’s communication skills and creativity. This focus will be highlighted through 70 discussions led by 70 guests hailing from 24 countries. Among the speakers are figures such as American bestselling author and illustrator Jerry Craft, American author Stacey Baer, Malaysian author and trainer Ying Ying Ng, and author Catherine Delos from the Philippines.

Representing the Arab world, the festival will welcome personalities including Syrian academic Dr Taleb Omran, Algerian scholar Dr El Aid Jlouli, and Omani poet Wafaa Al Shamsi. Furthermore, the UAE will be represented by cultural and literary figures such as Aisha Batti Al Shamsi, Rashid Al Rahmani, and Nadia Al Najjar, contributing to a exchange of ideas and diversity of cultural expression.

Illustration Award and Poetry Knight

The 12th edition of SCRF will honour the winners of the prestigious Sharjah Children’s Book Illustration Award, which received 425 entries from 48 countries this year, comprising 239 Arab participants and 186 international entrants, showcasing the global reach and recognition of this award. The festival will also host the Poetry Knight competition, which aims to encourage children and young adults to recite Arabic poetry in an engaging manner, with categories for primary (grades 1 to 4), middle (grades 5 to 8), and high school students (grades 9 to 12), providing a platform to showcase their appreciation and mastery of the literary arts.

Sharjah Animation Conference

Concurrently, Expo Centre Sharjah will welcome visitors to the 2nd edition of the Sharjah Animation Conference (SAC) from May 1 to 5, offering a platform for individuals to converge through over 60 events. The lineup includes 19 workshops, 28 panel discussions, six talks, and three music concerts, all led by 70 experts and personalities representing 11 countries. The conference offers a programme curated by directors and artists from global studios such as Disney, Warner Bros, and Sony.

World premiere

Renowned animator and Disney legend Andreas Deja will premiere his short film ‘Mushka’, offering attendees a unique opportunity to witness the unveiling of this anticipated film.

Animation stars

SAC 2024 will showcase a lineup of esteemed artists and award-winning talents, including industry icons such as Kristof Serrand, recognised for his internationally acclaimed artworks, and John Pomeroy, the director behind cinematic “masterpieces” such as Pocahontas and Fantasia 2000. Junichi Hayama, an artist and director with over three decades of experience, renowned for his contributions to Fist of the North Star and ‘One Piece Film: Red’, will also be part of the event.

The Arab contingent will feature figures like Dr Mohamed Ghazala, a multifaceted writer, director, producer, and Vice President of the International Animated Film Association; Islam Mazhar, Co-founder; and Ahmad Thabet, CCO/Cofounder at Samaka Studio, adding a diverse and talented dimension to the conference’s lineup of participants.