So this week, I’m going to try and inject some structure into this little crossroads that I like putting together. This time, I’m focusing on all things visual. Poetry, passion and heartbreak all around.
1, Sharmeen Obaid helps poetry find wings; Ode to Quetta
Early last week, there was a tragic attack on a police academy in Quetta. This is not the first violent incident to befall the troubled city (or province) and as much as all of us want to maintain optimism, the debilitating feelings are mutual. Perhaps more so because heartache is always accompanied by confusion. The politics surrounding this disastrously beautiful land is lauded with so many narratives that it’s nigh impossible to understand where we are or where we’re going.
But poetry is meant to articulate the unfathomable, so this little production by Sharmeen Obaid (under her banner SOC films) is a fitting frame for Quetta’s plight. Coupled with the arid landscape and people it allows Ali Baba Taj’s sincere words take centre stage.
2, Usman Riaz never disappoints; The Glassworker trailer
So, we have been following Mano animation studios for a long time. In fact, ‘The Glassworker’ was the first story we covered, and I’ve personally been fascinated by both the animation studio and the meteoric rise of Usman Riaz, (who is one of the best things to happen to Pakistan.)
Last week they released the trailer for ‘The Glassworker’ which of course is everything and a bag of chips.
You can see why opting for hand drawn animation albeit lengthy and expensive was definitely worth it, the trailer is stunning. But what I like the most (and I know that the puritanical moral brigade will have much to say about this) is how difficult it is to place. The dialogue is in Urdu, the animation style clearly inspired by Japanese animation (studio Ghibli to be exact) but the names of the characters and nuances suggest a European locale, and really it wouldn’t be surprising if this sense of confusion persists in the film itself. My favorite thing about Ghibli films themselves was that you could never pin down where you were; was ‘Princess Mononoke’ set in Asia or did it focus on the plight of Aborginal people? ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ the setting seemed predominantly European but there were nuances of Asian folk and horror throughout. Or even some of the best non-Ghibli productions. ‘Attack on Titan’ is my favourite and again the ethnicity and race of these characters is always a guessing game, and never the focal point.
Perhaps this is part coincidental and part deliberate. Coincidental because in an animated film, as opposed to a live action film, you can actually omit differences in race and ethnicity. Deliberate because in 2016, these differences still govern our lives and why shouldn’t we challenge them?
The idea that a project produced by Pakistanis is not just for Pakistanis is the best thing about ‘The Glassworker’.
3, Ali Hyder’s nostalgic streak, Samurai Jack tribute
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Ali for a couple of years now, and I don’t say this in jest, but it’s hard to find someone as genuinely winning. A martial arts enthusiast, interested in politics, talented artist, and one of the animators for Mano Animation studios among many many other things, I’ve been looking for a reason to include something of his on the site for a long time (although fun fact, he did design our logo.)
Recently, he re-shared a titbit from something he created a few months ago, and it encompasses his promise perfectly.
Those of you that remember the golden years of Cartoon Network must remember the icon that was Samurai Jack. I feel that both the series and the titular character were a rare Western production that were incredibly sensitive to Eastern culture. It’s surprising that a children’s cartoon could push so many boundaries and draw on everything from Asian horror to Blacksploitation to Film Noir.
Ali’s little video is an excellent showcase of how tributes differ from fan-fiction. While fan-fiction is more about changing the original, tributes work to celebrate what was brilliant to begin with. Ali’s video captures the ambiance of the beloved cartoon and works as a trailer almost because it makes you want to watch the series.
Now if Cartoon Network could just remember what made their stuff so good.
4, Between heaven and earth; Travel Beautiful Pakistan near Attaabad Lake
@Regrann_App from @travelpeacefulpakistan – The beauty of Attaabad Lake in this moment was too good to be true. – Shot by @usman_zubair . . . . . #vsco#vscocam#vscoartist#traveling#adventure#mountainsarecalling#trekking#adventurer#adventurous#agameoftones#beautifuldestinations#beautifulmatters#autumn#colors#sunset#attabadlake#lake#torquoise#hunza – #regrann #traveluster #freebird #northernAreas #travelbug #letsExplore #wanderlust #insta #instatravelling #PicturePakistan #travelaweseome
A picture is worth a thousand words, so I don’t have to say much about this. Just that, and I know this is a terrible cliché but, can you believe this is in Pakistan?
5, Fahhad Rajper unleashes Zoe Viccaji; Campaign for Hobo By HUB
Don’t panic if most ad campaigns look the same, it’s not just you. The simultaneously symbiotic and yet destructive relationship between fashion and corporate isn’t an easy thing to understand. The intent behind fashion is originality after all, a celebration of sorts of that which is uncanny and yet fabulous.
But the objective of a corporate brand is to make money (surprise surprise) hence what you get with most Pakistani fashion brands is something that claims to be non-conformist while conforming to everything it is rebelling against.
“We celebrate all types of beauty” usually looks like fair-skinned, skinny girls.
Yet ever so rarely there is something genuine. Like a leather clad songstress, a rundown car and graffiti, a whole lot of graffiti.
No this isn’t ‘ground-breaking.’ This is indulgence, and it is fun.
Basically, this is fashion.