Asia Argento (“Agony”), Golshifteh Farahani (“Extraction”) and Jim Sarbh (“Made in Heaven”) star in the voice cast of Ishan Shukla’s animated feature “Schirkoa,” production on which begins in the spring.
The voice cast also includes Soko (“Little Fish”) and Arish Ahmad Khan aka King Khan, front man of Berlin-based garage rock and psychedelic soul band King Khan and the Shrines, with filmmaker Gaspar Noe (“Climax”) and actor-musician Piyush Mishra (“Sanju”) appearing as VO guest stars. The soundtrack will be composed by Sneha Khanwalkar (“Gangs of Wasseypur”).
The film tells the story of a bored office worker, who may have accidentally sparked a revolution in a bizarre dystopian world, Schirkoa, where citizens live with paper bags on their heads to dissolve political, cultural and religious differences.
Shukla’s Indian animation studio Red Cigarette Media will produce the English-language feature. Co-producers are Dissidenz Films’ Tran Bich-Quan (France), Rapid Eye Movies’ Stephan Holl (Germany) and Chan Gin Kai’s Silver Media Group (Singapore).
“Schirkoa” will be one of the the first animated features to be developed in a game engine – Epic Games’ Unreal Engine by Epic Games, a technology used in live action content “The Mandalorian” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”
The film is based on Shukla’s 2016 short of the same name that travelled to more than 120 film festivals and earned 30 awards, including prizes at L.A. Shorts Fest, SIGGRAPH Asia, Oaxaca FilmFest and Venice Film Week.
“This film is a metaphorical reaction to the world I live in today,” said Shukla. “While the short film served as a good test bed for the story and animation technique it only scratched the surface of the larger conflict between the two dimensions of Schirkoa’s world – politics and faith. The conflict that I feel can only be meaningfully explored in a long form. As the story treads forward from perfect to imperfect societies, we transit from a relatable contemporary setting to an avant-garde fantastical territory. It gets intense, over the top and underlines the raw animalistic flip side of our humanity in its full glory.”
” ‘Schirkoa’ is an alternate future reimagined and compressed into a single cross-cultural and multilingual nation. This is also the reason actors are cast from a diverse range of artistic backgrounds, ethnicities, languages and cultures,” adds Shukla.
“I met Ishan at 2019 NFDC Film Bazaar in Goa, and I was instantly mesmerized by his slyly political, poetically witty and casually philosophical universe enhanced by powerful visuals,” said Tran. “It was way beyond an animated feature film: it is pure cinema. It is a visionary maverick gem with both a unique style and universal themes about diversity, power and self-awareness. It is ultimately a reflective story about what kind of society we want to live in with a high entertainment value.”
Dissidenz and Rapid Eye’s core business is specialty film distribution. Tran introduced “Schirkoa” to Holl, while Chan became aware of it from Singapore’s South East Asian Film Financing Forum.
“Each of us brings creative, technical and financial contributions to ‘Schirkoa’ in an amazingly harmonious and complementary fashion,” says Tran. “It is a wonderful international coproduction experience – we are like a four-member rock band from the same family.’
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