Shekarestan Initiation to completion

Shekarestan is an Iranian animated series made by three cultural centers, namely Howzeh Honari Animation Center, Saba Animation Center and the IRIB2 with Saeid Zameni Zameni and Babak Nazari as directors, and Sayyed Masoud Safavi as producer. Headed by Mahdi Esmaili, the team of writers made the script of a total number of 121 episodes that were broadcasted on the Iranian television in three seasons. Morteza Ahmadidid the voice narration, in his soothing voice, and late Jalal Zolfonun created the music. Honors and Awards The animated series, made with the cut-out techniques, made an enormous success in the national festivals of Iran. In 2008, for instance, it won the Best Animation Award of the Year of Khaneh Cinema Festival of Iran and seven more awards in other section.
Also during the 2011 Jam-e-Jam Festival, it was nominated for eight different awards and finally grabbed the Award for Best Animation Director. The Best Short Animation and the Golden Statuete for Best Directing during the 12th Festival of the Cinema of Iran, The Best Animation and the Golden Statuete of Hamadan Children’s Film Festival are other noteworthy awards of the animated series. The success of Shekarestan, however, is not limited to the Iranian arena, as it has also bagged a number of awards from international festivals while it was still broadcasted in Iran, including the Chang-O Festival of China, Giffoni Film Festival of Italy, and International Children’s Film Festival of India; yet the last but not the least of its glorious achievements is being chosen as the Best Animated Movie in the IIDCYA Festival. Distinctive Characteristics of Shekarestan Shekarestan is full of different characters. In fact 110 characters are living together in an old imaginary city.
The work is based on old Eastern-Iranian folklore, proverbs and oral stories that are rewriten from a modern viewpoint. The most outstanding characteristic of the series lies in its atempt to defamiliarize the audiences in their encounter with an unusual situation in the city of Shekarestan. In this old fictional land, no one is appointed to the right position. The idea is emphasized by the use of visual and dramatic deformations, inviting the viewer to contemplate over their own behavioral habits, hence making the animation atractive to both Iranian and non-Iranian audiences. The wise Bohlul (The Iranian Fool, or the seemingly mad sage of old Iranian parables), the sappy snobby and prodigal King, his wily tricky vizier, the braggart paper-tiger Pahlavan and his bully apprentices, the untrustworthy Judge and Nana Qamar (a stooped old woman in glasses and flowery chador) are some of the pivotal characters of Shekarestan, none of which seem any compatible to their jobs or social positions. Ancient Iranian and historical architecture in the series makes a good impression on the audiences while a wide range of originally Iranian tones of colors and paterns used in architecture, miniature, carpentry, etc. have been applied for designing characters and seƫngs. The Reflection of Shekarestan The series is considered the first Iranian animation series that was expanded by subsidiary tools, or merchandise. That is, some puppets were first made based on the series’ characters and were sold off in the shops – Paliz Compaby actually distribShekarestan Initiation to completion 44 Printed in IRAN uted them to stores across the country. Then other applicatory items, such as stationary, were designed with the animation characters on them and marketed by Azadeh Institution.
Among them Nana Qamar and Eskandar were the most popular and gained victory over other characters in the market while Samad also proved to be the most loved figure in the series. The computer game and a tablet version of the animation are in the production line and will be soon released to the market. The large reception of the animation indicates that the characters the animation on the whole have thrived in connecting to their audiences. Shekarestan was broadcasted on almost all internal television channels, and apart from national success it has enjoyed the opportunity of broadcasting in foreign countries. Ten episodes of Shekarestan was dubbed to French and screened in about twenty cinemas of Paris. It is also dubbed into Arabic and English, while a Thai dubbing is also in the agenda of the producing team. Referring to the main features of this television series in an exclusive interview with Printed-In-Iran, the animation producer Sayyed Masoud Safavi said: “there are two main reasons for the viewers’ positive response inside and outside Iran. First, upon seeing the series anyone can easily identify themselves with at least one of the character types. Second, there might be a large number of animated movies that have been highly atractive for following the rules and maintaining visual qualities, yet beauty does not uter the last word in animation production. This is the vitality and a sense of liveliness beyond the lines and colors that maters in the atraction of the viewer’s atention. Therefore, the director should be able to implement this vivacity in his work. Moreover, all other elements involved in this work from music to architecture and the use of miniature and oriental design of seƫngs and spaces have an Iranian nature and of course, the beauty and atraction of Iranian arts are undeniable.” He also announced that the second series of Shekarestan will be produced.
“The script for the second series of Shekarestan is now being prepared and gradually more spaces will be added to the seƫng, whereas we have preserved the previous structure and framework. Moreover, a film will be produced out of the whole series.” Stories for Children All Over the World With the help of superb animating techniques and atractive narratives, Shekarestan has gained singular success. Although rooted in old Iranian stories, the unique visual features of the work such as live and plausible images, oriental patterns, and simple and soothing language in the didactic genre, make it capable of communicating with people everywhere notwithstanding their ages, cultures or geographical locations. Shekarestan and its amicable characters are wholeheartedly willing to accept any invitation anywhere in the world and take an adventurous journey to four corners of the earth.

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