Khorfakkan, an epic film scripted by the emir of Sharjah, triumphs at the Istanbul and Brussels film festivals

The film tells the story of the resistance of the inhabitants of the emblematic Emirati city to the Portuguese invasions of 1507 and 1534


The first film produced by the Emirate of Sharjah's Audiovisual Authority, "Khorfakkan", has won top awards at festivals in Istanbul and Brussels. In the former, as the best dramatic film, and in the latter as the best historical film.

The film is based on the book of the same title, written by Sultan Muhammad al-Qasimi, the head of Sharjah, one of the United Arab Emirates, who attended several of the filming sessions to advise and supervise the historical veracity of the events referred to in the film. The film was co-directed by Irishman Maurice Sweeney and British director Ben Mole, who moved more than 300 artists and extras, including numerous Arab and Emirati artists


For this first Sharjah Audiovisual Authority production, the main focus was to set the scenes on the beaches, farms and mountains of the ancient city of Khorfakkan. Thanks to the exhaustive location work of the director of photography, the Irishman Richard Kendrick, the settings were carefully selected to be as close as possible to those of the 16th century, in which the action takes place.

The resistance of the inhabitants of Khorfakkan to the Portuguese naval invasion of 1507, led by General Afonso de Albuquerque, was particularly bloody. The story continues 27 years later, when on 13 February 1534, Commander Jorge de Castro launches a new attack on the city, whose siege by the Portuguese sailors is ultimately unsuccessful in the face of stiff resistance from the besieged inhabitants of the town.


As an epic film, the story is at the same time a documentary about the political and social situation of the area at that time, the way of life of the people, and of course the many acts of heroism and the indomitable spirit they displayed in the face of the Portuguese conquerors.

The casting includes Syrian actor Rachid Assaf in the role of General Alonso de Albuquerque. Other well-known Syrian actors include Qais Shaikh Najib, Mansur al-Fili, Abdullah bin Haidar, Abdulrahman al-Mulla, Mohammad Juma and Qasim Melho. Emirati actors Ahmed al-Jasmi, Mohammed al-Ameri and Habib Ghloum are making their debuts. 


The film has now won awards in Turkey and Belgium, adding to the three awards it won last June at the Athvikvaruni International Film Festival (India) for Best Asian Film, Best Documentary and Best Director.