New Delhi, Oct 21 (IANS) Pakistan's first Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chenoy hopes that her efforts to make animation mainstream in her home country herald a new era in the country's film industry, which is witnessing a "rebirth" with "bold and socially conscious cinema".
"Saving Face", a film about the horrors of acid attacks, brought her the prestigious Academy Award and global acclaim in 2012.
Now the documentary filmmaker has put her creative forces behind Urdu entertainer "3 Bahadur", said to be the country's first animated feature. She says the film, which took two years to make, is "filling a gap in Pakistani cinema".
"In a country of (over) 180 million people, the resurgence of cinema is occurring at a rapid rate. An unprecedented amount of multiplexes are springing up all over the country to cater to growing demands for quality entertainment," Obaid-Chinoy told IANS in an e-mail interview from Karachi.
"Pakistan has one of the youngest populations in the world with about 42 percent of people under the age of 14; yet there is virtually no original children's programming in theatres or television in the country," she added.
Waadi Animations - a joint venture of ARY Films and SOC Films - spearheaded by Obaid-Chinoy, will produce animated content including feature films, short films, animated TV series and commercials to cater to the demands of the evolving audience.
"3 Bahadur", a "quintessentially Pakistani story", is its first offering, and Obaid-Chinoy hopes the movie "will play its own small role in expanding the industry and getting more people interested in what animation has to offer".
"Unlike Indian cinema, which has solidified its place in the global arena, Pakistan is now witnessing the rebirth of its film industry. I have no doubt that this new wave of bold and socially conscious cinema will carve out a unique place for itself in the international sphere," she said.
The filmmaker, who has even won an Emmy Award for her documentary "Children of the Taliban" on recruitment of child terrorists, said her homeland has several talented illustrators, writers, animators and visual effect artists.
"Unfortunately, we haven't done justice to them. We've not given them the space and resources required to show off just how talented they are. We have all the ingredients to one day be a nation that produces multiple animated films every year," she said, adding that the country is replete with many colleges and universities offering quality training in animation.
"The problem arises after these talented animators graduate and find themselves in a market that offers very limited opportunities for them to showcase their talent. The talent and skill is there, but this industry had never been given the resources that it requires to live up to its full potential."
This, coupled with the lack of content for kids, is what caught Obaid-Chinoy's interest in making "3 Bahadur".
"Pakistan has a very young population and a booming media industry, but we have stopped producing quality content for children. All of our content is imported - from animation to variety shows, and thus our youth grows up with mentors and heroes that are far removed from what they see around them in real life.
"I felt that it was about time we produced light-hearted, quality content for children locally so that our children can finally see characters who look and speak like them on the big screen," Obaid-Chinoy added.
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)