Pakistani short film Swipe makes it to world's most prestigious animation festivals
Swipe, a Pakistani animated short film, has been selected for the world's oldest and most prestigious animation festival, the Annecy International Festival. It has also been selected for the AnimaFest Zagreb 2021, the second oldest animation festival in the world.
The Annecy International Festival will be held from July 14 to 19 while the AnimaFest Zagreb is scheduled from June 7 to 12.
The film has been made by Puffball, a Lahore-based animation and music studio.
Swipe will be the first Pakistani film to be showcased at both festivals. The film tells the story of Jugnu, a young boy who is addicted to swiping on iFatwa, an app that crowdsources religious death sentences.
The Puffball team is "absolutely thrilled and overjoyed", according to Rasti Farooq, a writer, producer and actor at the studio. "It’s such a huge win for so many reasons."
All of Puffball’s films are produced with the intent of making them as accessible as possible for the Pakistani public precisely because we want our community to confront and grapple with the conflicts our stories bring to the fore, she said. "And so we make sure that as soon as the film is complete, we put it up online for everyone to watch for free."
To be recognised at some of the most prestigious international festivals in spite of that — of having forgone the exclusivity that international festivals usually demand — is incredibly rewarding for us, Farooq told Images.
The team that worked on Swipe was made up largely of fresh graduates and a handful of university students from Lahore and Rawalpindi. Puffball was launched merely two years ago, so for it to have created something so impactful with such a young team really says a lot about how passionate and talented our team is, said Farooq.
Of course it also opens up possibilities for exciting prospects for Puffball. Since the release of our debut animated short, Shehr e Tabassum, which was a sci-fi dystopia, we've received so much support and appreciation from Pakistani audiences, said Farooq.
"Now, getting to showcase Pakistani animated art in the international arena motivates us even more to continue challenging ourselves to explore form and narrative, to tell thrilling and introspective stories that are rooted in our history and are mindful of our present and our future."
And of course, for Arafat [Mazhar], who directed Swipe as well as did animation, acting and scoring for it, Swipe is so much more than just an animated short, she said. Swipe is a result of his decade-long research and activism on the troubled history of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, Farooq explained.
"Having already produced a thorough report and published his research, he wanted to do something more — to create something that encapsulated the issue but reached a wider audience and brought people together to reflect on what the rampant misuse of these laws does to our sense of self and community," she explained. For that reason, Swipe had a very deep and personal significance for him, and for it to be showcased at the Oscars of the animation festival circuit, Annecy — and to be the first Pakistani film to make it there — means a lot, said Farooq.