Ishan Shukla’s dystopian sci-fi ‘Schirkoa: In Lies We Trust’ wows the audience at the 53rd IFFR

Ishan Shukla's dystopian sci-fi animation feature ‘Schirkoa: In Lies We Trust’, based on his Oscar-longlisted short wows at the 53rd IFFR

Award-winning filmmaker Ishan Shukla’s debut feature ‘Schirkoa: In Lies We Trust’, a dystopian sci-fi animation film which recently had its World Premiere at the 2024 International Film Festival of Rotterdam (IFFR) in the Bright Future section strikes a special chord with the audience.

‘Schirkoa: In Lies We Trust’ tells the story of a dystopian world where people are made to wear paper bags over their heads to dissolve differences, and an anonymous citizen sparks an accidental revolution. Tensions rise when the whispers of a mythical land without the bags start to float and a fresh council member sparks an accidental revolution.

Ishan’s debut feature is based on his award-winning short with the same name, ‘Schirkoa’ (2016) which played at 120 plus international film festivals and won 33 awards, including Best Animated Short award at the LA Shorts Festival and was longlisted for the Academy Awards.

The 103-minute film features principal voices of international film personalities such as Golshifteh Farahani, Asia Argento, SoKo, King Khan And The Shrines, Denzil Smith, John Sutton and introducing Tibu Fortes and Shahbaz Sarwar and guest star voices of Lav Diaz, Karan Johar, Shekhar Kapur, Anurag Kashyap, Piyush Mishra and auteur filmmaker Gasper Noé.

The film’s eclectic, immersive soundtrack is composed by the acclaimed Sneha Khanwalkar, who has created iconic compositions for films like ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ and ‘Oye Lucky Lucky Oye’.

The film is an Indo-French-German co-production. On the Indian side the film is produced by Red Cigarette Media in association with Civic Studios. It is Executive Produced by Anushka Shah and Co-Produced by Samir Sarkar.

Excited about the World Premiere response, the debut filmmaker Ishan Shukla who also directed an episode of ‘Star Wars: Visions Volume 2’ says, “I’m so happy about the film’s great response and its premiere at Rotterdam. Having our film at IFFR has been a great honour for us, the response towards the film has been truly overwhelming and amazing. It was incredible to see how well it connected with the audience here.”

Anushka Shah, the founder of Civic Studios says, “We are thrilled by the reception ‘Schirkoa: In Lies We Trust’ has received today at the World Premiere. For a film to spark immediate conversation within the audience, leave viewers with critical questions about the world and our individual roles in it, while also mesmerizing with the visuals and music is incredible. We’re very happy to be able to support Ishan’s vision and together we can’t wait to take this story to a larger audience worldwide.”

Director Ishan Shukla’s explains saying, “SCHIRKOA is a metaphorical reaction to the world I live in today – a perpetual conflict between two dimensions of our world. Thus, I imagined an alternate timeline where the whole world is concentrated into just two nations – an eclectic mix of cultures, identities, and languages. One nation, Schirkoa, is striving hard to achieve perfection and quite successfully achieves it through the ‘Bag Act’. The second nation, Konthaqa, is more human, colourful, romantic, sometimes irrational, and eventually chaotic.”

“Both nations have thought-provoking ideas to run their nations and the better alternative can only be subjected to an individual’s perception. Against this giant backdrop, there’s an intimate story following the events in the life of a meek man whose life keeps ascending to extremities as he travels through these two worlds trying to find meaning between society, spirituality, and family.”

“As the story treads forward we transit from a relatable contemporary setting to an avant-garde fantastical territory. I tend to see the world through an absurdist lens: for me, animation provocatively amalgamates absurdity and fantasy while still keeping the visual poetry and human moments intact.”

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