Civic Studios, a Mumbai and London-based media company focused on social impact narratives, is spearheading the animation feature Schirkoa: In Lies We Trust, by Ishan Shukla. The film, premiered at the 2024 International Film Festival of Rotterdam, won the prestigious NETPAC award for Best Asian Film.

Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap, Shekhar Kapur and Piyush Mishra turn voice actors for animated feature Schirkoa In Lies We Trust

Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap, Shekhar Kapur and Piyush Mishra turn voice actors for animated feature Schirkoa: In Lies We Trust

According to Variety, Schirkoa: In Lies We Trust presents a thought-provoking dystopia where citizens wear paper bags to erase differences. Whispers of a mythical land free from these constraints ignite tensions, leading a fresh council member to inadvertently spark revolution.

Ishan Shukla serves as writer, designer, and director, collaborating artistically with Bich-Quan Tran. The voice cast includes actors Golshifteh Farahani, Asia Argento, SoKo, King Khan, Denzil Smith, and John Sutton along with new actors Tibu Fortes and Shahbaz Sarwar. Interestingly, the voice guest stars include Lav Diaz, Gaspar Noe, Karan Johar, Shekhar Kapur, Anurag Kashyap, and Piyush Mishra.

A source told Bollywood Hungama, “Karan Johar plays the guest voice star in the film. He is the voice of the Announcer. An all-pervasive voice on radio, television and loudspeakers in the fictional world of this story. It’s not a typical Orwellian announcer voice. There is a twig of amusement and showmanship here. A charismatic, sly-humored, gender-bending character whose voice is there to comfort the people of the country. This powerful voice performance is the anchor in the expository portions of the film.”

The official synopsis reads, “In a sophisticated near perfect society Schirkoa, citizens live with paper bags on their heads to dissolve differences. Tensions rise when the whispers of a mythical land without the bags start to float and a fresh council member sparks an accidental revolution.”

Schirkoa: In Lies We Trust, a new animated feature film by Ishan Shukla, takes viewers on a journey into a strange and unsettling world. Set in a sophisticated, near-perfect society called Schirkoa, citizens are forced to wear paper bags over their heads to erase individuality. This enforced uniformity is maintained through a constant stream of propaganda delivered by a charismatic and oddly humorous announcer, voiced by none other than Bollywood superstar Karan Johar.

But beneath the surface of Schirkoa’s apparent harmony, whispers of a mythical land where people live freely begin to spread. This rebellion is sparked by a newly appointed council member who becomes entangled in a web of intrigue. The film explores classic dystopian themes of social control, brainwashing, and the human desire for liberation. However, director Shukla injects a unique twist by injecting elements of amusement and sly humour, even within the oppressive atmosphere.

Schirkoa: In Lies We Trust is a visually stunning production, created using a video game engine to achieve a unique blend of 3D and 2D animation. The resulting world is a stylish fusion of cool, sophisticated visuals and stark, noirish architecture. This aesthetic choice perfectly complements the film’s exploration of a society where beauty and control are intertwined.

Shukla doesn’t shy away from drawing parallels with contemporary events. The film reflects on recent struggles for freedom, acts of civil disobedience, and the collective experience of living in a masked world during the pandemic. This ability to weave relevant social commentary into a fantastical narrative adds depth and resonance to the film’s themes.

The film has already garnered critical acclaim, premiering at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in January 2024, where it won the prestigious NETPAC Award for best Asian feature film. The IFFR jury praised the film for its “universal approach,” “spectacular style,” and “astonishing ideas,” highlighting its successful blend of humour and social commentary.

Following its successful festival run, Schirkoa: In Lies We Trust is now being sold for theatrical release in various territories by international sales agent NEW EUROPE FILM SALES. With its captivating story, innovative visuals, and thought-provoking themes, this unique animated film promises to be a must-see for fans of dystopian science fiction and animation alike.

Schirkoa is a product of international collaboration. Dissidenz Films and Red Cigarette Media co-produced the film, with contributions from Rapid Eye Movies, Civic Studios, and Cofinova 18. Additionally, the film received support from various institutions across France, Germany and India.

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