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SIFF to Screen 132 Films From 39 Countries



FUNN, the Sharjah-based organisation that promotes media arts learning among children and youth, has announced the full schedule of the upcoming 7th edition of Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFF). The festival will be held under the theme ‘Films inspired by Books’ from October 13-18, 2019.

During a press conference held at Zero 6 Mall’s Cinemacity Imax, Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, Director of FUNN and SIFF, outlined the agenda, in the presence of actor and director, Abdullah Al Junaibi, and Dr. Khalid Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City (Shams). Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, Director of FUNN and SIFF, commented, “The audience will enjoy many special films, particularly those dedicated to youth, an age group we are targeting beginning with this edition.”

Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, Director of FUNN and SIFF

She noted that the SIFF objectives were evolving with the times to ensure that the films it screened would remain topical and project the right messages. She underscored that it was essential for the new generation of filmmakers to be authentic and honest in choosing a subject they could identify with which would also resonate with audiences the world over.

Books to films
Speaking about the theme of this year’s edition, she said: “Many of the Arabic and international film masterpieces have been inspired by books. Films based on literary classics have the power to connect with audiences across generations. Books will always inspire all forms of arts.”

She added, “Sharjah earned the prestigious World Book Capital 2019 title because it has worked hard for many decades to build generations of readers and is dedicated to fostering reading and books through educational, pedagogical, cultural and artistic programmes.”

HE Khalid Omar Al Midfa

The SIFF director announced a three-fold increase in the number of films submitted this year, and that a junior jury has been selected this year consisting of children and youth, who will evaluate films made by their peers, in addition to professional jurors who will evaluate the rest of the categories.

The professional jurors comprise critics, filmmakers, and actors including Omar Farouk, Basel Khayat, Julian Carrington, and Abdul Rahman Al Aqeel, as well as a selection of Emirati artists. Sheikha Jawaher announced that a raffle draw with a Mini Cooper car as the grand prize would be a part of the festival.

Emirati actor Abdullah Al Junaibi

Many films being premiered
Al Qasimi announced that 132 films from 39 countries were selected from a total of 1,454 submissions from 86 countries, across seven categories: Best Child- and Youth-made Film, Best Student-made Film, Best GCC Short Film, Best International Short Film, Best Animation Film, Best Documentary Film, and Best Feature Film.

She said 12 of the films being screened would have their international premiere at SIFF, while 75 films will make their Middle East debut. Seven films will have their GCC debut and 11 their UAE premieres.

7 Venues across Sharjah and Dubai
Sheikha Jawaher also revealed the addition of new screening venues in Dubai at Festival City on September 26 and 27, and at City Walk between October 3-12. In Sharjah, films will be screened at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre from October 14-18, and at Cinema Zero 6 between September 26 and October 17.

Screenings will be also be held at Arabian Center, Dubai, from October 15-17; Last Exit Al Khawaneej from September 28 to October 13; and La Mer from September 30 to October 2.

Workshops and panel discussions
Al Qasimi noted that SIFF had lined up a series of panel discussions and workshops on topics covering the film industry, photography suitable for all age groups. In addition, youth can look forward to a number of workshops, events, and activities dedicated to them during the festival.

HE Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City (Shams), the Festival’s Gold Sponsor, said: “The Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFF) is yet another significant cultural achievement. It is part of our vibrant yearlong Sharjah World Book Capital 2019 celebrations. Honouring this global achievement, SIFF this year is gearing up to highlight the key role of books in nurturing arts, especially cinema, to our young festival attendees.”

“We work in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, to build a vibrant community and create an environment where culture, arts, and innovation can thrive. This is why we were keen on supporting SIFF. We believe that FUNN’s projects are second to none in the way they promote the learning of media arts for children and youth. Sharjah Media City was established to empower youth, ignite their knowledge-based creativity and innovation, and through these key partnerships, we are able to further our efforts geared towards enriching Sharjah’s cultural legacy,” he added.

The Emirati actor and director, Abdullah Al Junaibi, added a message for children and youth: “You are lucky to enjoy all this support and care. We did not have the same opportunities when I was the same age as you. We did not have a festival like this; there were no workshops or sessions that introduced us to new technology, or taught us about production and direction. We had no one to screen films for us, or explain the technique behind them or analyse their artistic worth. Please utilise this golden opportunity that we did not get.”

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Pop Culture Show Popcon Middle East Comes to Dubai in November 2022



Dubai will be hosting its first edition of PopCon Middle East (PopConME) from the 10th  – 13th  November 2022. Promising the ultimate weekend, PopConME will showcase the best in Movies, TV, comics, graphic novels, anime, cosplay, and much more. In partnership with Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), Speedy Comics, and Alanza Trading, PopConME will take place at the Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC), Expo City Dubai, featuring exclusive workshops, movie screenings, Cosplay gaming competitions, and much more.

PopConME will be running as part of Dubai Esports Festival (DEF 2022) taking place from the 9th – 20th November 2022, the most exciting esports and gaming event in the Middle East, and a trend-setter for the region’s gaming industry which is set to cement Dubai’s position as a year-round global hub for esports and gaming.

“We are excited to introduce PopConME to Dubai. I have been a fan of comic books since I was a child and have been entrenched in the community from an early age. This is a dream come true for a true geek like me. I want this convention to have everything and more my geek heart desires.” said Amer Rashed Al Farooq, Deputy CEO, Speedy Comics Group, the region’s number one destination for vintage comics and pop culture collectibles.

This festival will give fans the opportunity to celebrate their favourite celebrities, meet like-minded people, and indulge in the world of fantasy all under one roof. Comic book geeks will get the opportunity to meet and greet their favourite talents up close, attend exclusive workshops and buy one-of-a-kind merchandise at the Artist Alley. Packed with interactive zones and activations PopConME will host its own People’s Choice Cosplay, Dungeons & Dragons, Pokémon/Yu-Gi-Oh Card Competitions.

Featuring a line-up of some of the biggest international talents, PopConME has already confirmed the attendance of Nightmare on Elm Street actress Katie Cassidy, who is also known for her portrayal of the demon Ruby in the fantasy horror series, Supernatural and Black Canary in Arrow. Also confirmed to attend are CW Supernatural Kevin Tran and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency actor, Osric Chau, and voice actor Ray Porter best known for his portrayal of DC Comics Villain, Darkseid in Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

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HP Launches PCs, Display, Streaming Webcams, and Enhanced Services at its Amplify Executive Forum in Dubai



At HP Amplify Executive Forum, HP’s annual partner roadshow, the company announced new devices and solutions to help people thrive in their hybrid work environments. “Work habits and the expectations around work-life balance have changed significantly over the past few years. People want the flexibility to collaborate and create wherever they need to be, and the technology they use is fundamental,” said Guayente Sanmartin, General Manager and Global Head, Commercial Systems & Displays Solutions, HP Inc. “HP is in an excellent position to deliver innovative experiences through hardware, software, and services to support the work transformation happening today.”

With nearly half of workers having at least some flexibility in where they work in 2023, it’s critical for people to have the right technology to make personal connections and meaningful contributions while having an equal seat at the table. They want devices with personalized experiences that enable them to securely collaborate, create, and be productive no matter where they get work done.

HP continues its commitment to providing the right tools for the ultimate work experience. New PCs include the HP Dragonfly Folio G3 – the hybrid-ready convertible PC for business, and the HP 34” All-in-One Desktop PC – a creative powerhouse that offers users a studio-like experience with support for dual video streams and camera switching. The new HP Z32k G3 4K USB-C Display provides an unprecedented level of detail, while the new HP 965 4K Streaming Webcam delivers crystal clear video. Enhancements to HP Proactive Insights, empower IT to optimize the device experience for employees with the power of HP analytics.

HP Dragonfly Folio G3
HP continues to deliver premium experiences in its expanded Dragonfly portfolio. With a pull-forward design that seamlessly transitions from laptop to tablet, the HP Dragonfly Folio G3 empowers collaborative thinkers to create, capture, and share ideas whenever they strike.

The HP Dragonfly Folio G3 makes brainstorming and whiteboarding ideas a personalized experience with natural and intelligent inking with the HP Dragonfly Folio Pen. The pen magnetically attaches to the device, features three programmable buttons, and can wirelessly charge to 100% in 30 minutes. Users can unleash even more creativity by using their pen on the display of the HP Dragonfly Folio to ink on a secondary connected display with HP Indirect Inking.

Enhanced by HP Presence, the HP Dragonfly Folio G3 offers collaboration features for more productive and engaging video conferencing experiences. The 8MP camera ensures users show up naturally and the 100-degree field-of-view makes it easy for another teammate to join onscreen when collaborating in person. When users want to think on their feet, HP Auto Frame keeps them in the frame when they want to stand, stretch, or move around – perfect for days with back-to-back meetings. HP Dynamic Voice Leveling automatically adjusts voice volume to maintain consistency whether users are close or far from the microphone. When working remotely, users can worry less about background sounds with AI-based noise reduction that filters outbound and inbound noises. For added security, the HP Privacy Camera allows users to disable the webcam with the touch of a button.

Powered by Intel vPro with 12th Gen Intel Core processors, the HP Dragonfly Folio G3 can handle resource-intensive projects and demanding business applications with ease. For increased performance, it features upgraded memory with LPDDR5 up to 32GB and storage up to 2TB. A new thermal solution optimizes PC performance without adding significant weight or thickness. The new HP Auto Screen Dimming5 features help conserve battery power for long work days.

HP Wolf Security for Business provides a resilient defense against malware and hacking, while new seamless firmware ensures a 50% reduction in update time and allows users to stay productive and continue working during BIOS and firmware updates. HP Privacy Alert lets users know when prying eyes are viewing their screen so they can quickly switch on the optional HP Sure View to blur the screen from unwanted eyes. When it comes to personalizing the mobile office experience, the myHP application provides a single dashboard to control and customize PC settings for excellent video, audio, and more.

HP 34” All-in-One Desktop PC
75% of end users today believe video quality matters for their job success. Combining powerful, easy-to-use technology with an impressive design, the new HP 34” All-in-One Desktop PC creates a studio-like experience with support for dual video streams and camera switching, so you can show yourself and your work at the same time.

The HP 34” All-in-One Desktop PC allows users to move the detachable, magnetic 16MP (4MP Binned) camera to multiple positions on the screen bezel to find the best field of view. Users can even point the camera towards their desk so they can share hand-written notes or documents live on video calls. The high-resolution camera, together with new software, HP Keystone Correction, will automatically crop and flatten the image of the camera feed, creating a crisp, digital image of pages or a whiteboard to share in real time. When users need a break during video conference calls, the HP Be Right Back feature lets them change their video feed to a still picture.

A creative powerhouse, the HP 34” All-in-One Desktop PC delivers an immersive experience with an uncompromising 34-inch diagonal 5K display with a 21:9 aspect so you can fit more work into your imaginative process. Users can experience deeper pictures and vibrant colors with a 5K WUHD (5120×2160) display and reduce blue light wave exposure with the TÜV certified HP Eye Ease low blue light panel. As the world’s most powerful commercial All-in-One PC, users can take on big projects utilizing multiple applications with Intel vPro with 12th Gen Intel processors and NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics. The PC grows with the user with upgradeable storage and memory up to 128GB DDR5.

HP Z32k G3 4K​USB-C Display​
The HP Z32k G3 4K USB-C Display, the world’s first IPS Black display with Thunderbolt 4 technology, empowers creators and product developers to maximize their creative potential. Creators want an unprecedented level of detail, so it’s no surprise that 99% of creative pros and 90% of power users find color accuracy very important when purchasing a monitor. The latest Z performance monitor features IPS Black panel technology, which means deeper blacks, more vibrant colours, and a 98% P3 wide color range, all in 4K ultra-high resolution.

Providing twice the contrast ratio of a traditional IPS panel, creations come to life and what is seen on the screen matches the imagination of the creator or product developer. With additional features like single power on, KVM switch, and Thunderbolt 4 with the ability to daisy chain a second 4K monitor with a single cable, the Z32k G3 delivers multi-device creative workflow versatility, all in a single solution.

HP 965 4K Streaming Webcam
People want to make personal connections. With 73% of webcam users judging others based on video quality, and 75% judging others based on audio quality, the HP 965 4K Streaming Webcam empowers users to stream their most authentic selves. Enhanced by HP Presence, the webcam delivers crystal-clear video in up to 4K resolution, while AI face-framing and autofocus make it feel like users are in the room. User images and ideas stay vibrant with the 18mm F2.0 large lens and lowlight adjustment feature. Feel confident you are heard clearly with noise reduction and dual microphones. The webcam is also Zoom certified to deliver a superb conferencing experience with technologies designed to work seamlessly with Zoom.

HP Proactive Insights
HP Proactive Insights, provides IT with advanced AI and actionable insights to help optimize the device experience for employees. The latest enhancements to the device fleet management service enable IT professionals and managed service providers to create and execute an optimized device strategy in a hybrid work environment. With many customers planning to upgrade to Windows 11, IT teams or channel partners managing on their behalf can run a Windows 11 Readiness Assessment to plan and implement an insights-driven migration strategy for their existing PCs.

New, customizable analytics dashboards spot issues before they happen to help ensure the firmware is up to date and devices stay connected. The new Digital Experience Scorecard enables HP Partners and IT to quantify the device experience for employees with key insights into device health, performance, and security across the fleet so that they can identify opportunities for improvement.

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Samsung Electronics Partners with TOD to Offer TOD TV App on its Smart TVs



Samsung Electronics has joined forces with TOD, a rising streaming platform, to grant TV enthusiasts access to a broad spectrum of exclusive, live, and on-demand entertainment and sports, including beIN’s unparalleled range of premium content. Samsung is the first in the region to include the TOD app on its TVs, complementing the brand’s mission to enrich TV aficionados with outstanding content.

Ensuring a unique and unmatched experience for sports fans, TOD exclusively hosts beIN Sports’ unrivaled sports programming, including access to a pay-per-view subscription to some of the most highly anticipated sporting events. Audiences across the MENA will also avail over 35,000 hours of premium entertainment content, including the latest Hollywood blockbusters; Arabic, Turkish, and international content; TOD Originals as well as children’s programmes.

TOD offers viewers three customised packages: ‘Entertainment,’ ‘Sports,’ and ‘All In,’ to choose from. Its sports content is offered up to 4K/UHD streaming with Dolby Audio, presenting vivid visuals coupled with rich, clear, and powerful sounds. Additionally, the platform comes with the ability to connect up to five devices and supports popular smartphones and big screens, enabling viewers to enjoy content anytime and anywhere.

Commenting on the partnership, John Paul Mckerlie, VP of Marketing and Sales at TOD, said, “Sports and entertainment are both social forces and industries that celebrate and unify the MENA region’s diversity and camaraderie. We are excited about our partnership with Samsung as it brings TOD to a big screen and helps us make inroads into our users’ homes across the MENA region. With beIN’s unparalleled portfolio of channels, consumers can now stream TOD’s exclusive content selection on their Samsung TVs, comprising the best in sports and entertainment on one platform. Built around current customer needs, TOD incorporates the latest technologies to provide an integrated and personalised experience that enhances live viewing, content navigation and accessibility. Along with streaming the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 for the MENA region, sports and entertainment enthusiasts across the region will appreciate our standout lineup of Turkish, Arabic, and Hollywood shows as well as our spectacular package of beIN’s exclusive sports content.”

Nikola Aksentijevic, Head of Visual Display Group, Samsung Gulf Electronics, said: “We are pleased to partner with a leading streaming platform to meet the demand for a wide range of differentiated content for diverse users in the region. As a top TV manufacturer, Samsung is focusing on providing the most optimized user experiences and addressing visual communications holistically. Our partnerships help to catapult our valued audiences’ viewing experience to great heights whilst maximizing the ever-evolving role of the screen and Samsung’s breakthrough display innovation.”

Samsung Smart TV users can avail themselves of over 30,000 hours of premium TOD content and benefit from various exclusive bundle offers.

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