Saturday, 29 March 2014

Amir M. Dehestani's The Messengers

The Messengers (Daastaan e Payaambaraan - literally, "The Story of Prophets") is an Iranian animated feature that was completed in 2000 but never made it to cinemas. It consists of three segments, each following a different prophet of Islam: Noah, Hud and Saleh.

The  Noah sequence and the trailer can be viewed online. Director Amir M. Dehestani details some of the background in the video description:
The Messengers is the first iranian digital feature animated movie, it was produced in the year 2000 by hand drawn animation aided by old DOS based 2D & 3D animation softwares(Autodesk animator pro & 3D studio) the production studio for the film is Hoor animation in tehran and it was directed by "Amir M.Dehestani" Due to the low budget ,very few proper talent resources and low technology problems it had a
very difficult production progress but unfortunately it wasn't released on the big screen and only had few TV broadcasts.The Messengers (by the persian name : "DAASTAAN E PAYAAMBARAAN"- The story of prophets )in three episodes tells three stories from holy Koran.The story of Noah, Hood and saleh.
It really was a pioneering work for it's time!

Friday, 28 March 2014

Malik Nejer: Saudi Arabia's most popular animator?

 One of Malik Nejer's web cartoons, مسامير - كلمة أخيرة (Nails - A Final Word, according to Google Translate)

According to this New York Times article, the fourth most-subscribed YouTube channel in Saudi Arabia (at the time the article was written, in 2011) belongs to an animator: Malik Nejer. He is noted for his satirical cartoons:
A natural disaster two years ago gave Mr. Nejer his break in the animation business. The 2009 flood that swept Jidda, killing more than 100 people, prompted him to make a short, satirical animated clip, “The Real Reason Behind the Jidda Disaster.” The sketch, featuring a government official who falls in love with, and marries, his chair, went viral.
The article goes on to discuss the specific cultural backdrop to Nejer's work:
Mr. Nejer’s success is helped by Saudi Arabia’s brand of Islam, which bans cinemas, segregates the sexes and imposes censorship on the news media.
“YouTube is becoming more successful in Saudi Arabia, and people are creating more genuine content because we have nothing else to do,” he said. “This kind of helped create traffic.”
You can see his YouTube channel here. Nejer is also active on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Jamshid and Khorshid

Directed by Behruz Yaghmaian, the feature film Jamshid and Khorshid has been hailed by at least one viewer as "Iranian anime". From watching the trailer, it looks to me as though its main inspiration is 90s Disney animation, although there's a definite bit of anime influence in there too - and perhaps coincidentally, a trace of the Russian studio Soyuzmultfilm. The main character is, from what I can gather, a king from Iranian legend.

This article from Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting claims that the film is a response to the highly negative portrayal of the Persians in 300 - although as the same article makes the bizarre claim that 300 was funded by the US Department of Defence, it should be taken with a little salt...

According to WhatsUpIran the film came out in 2007, although most material about it that I've found online comes from 2009 or later.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Mohammed Saeed Harib's Freej

Created by Dubai resident Mohammed Saeed Harib and running since 2006, Freej is a CGI television series about a quartet of elderly women. It has attracted quite a bit of attention in the English language media, with articles at Wikipedia, Thinkup News and The Economist, the last of these comparing it to The Simpsons because of its cross-generational appeal and grilling Harib on his inspirations:
In one of the classes at university our professor asked us to come up with a superhero "from your culture”. Before we had this oil infusion, our grandfathers used to go pearl diving for six to seven months. The female figures had to raise six to seven kids in a very harsh financial environment and climate. She used to teach the kids, she used to work, so she was the superhero. On top of that she looked very unique, thanks to the mask she was wearing. Hence my first character was born.
Some of the series can be viewed on YouTube (in Arabic).

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The Frenkel brothers' other characters

Earlier on I wrote about the Frenkel brothers, who created the character Mish-Mish Effendi in Egypt. One of my main sources was this article by the Historical Society of Jews from Egypt, which showcases some other characters created by the Frenkels.

Their first character appears to have been Marco Monkey, who fits squarely within the tradition of early animated characters based on Felix the Cat and Mickey Mouse:

Later on they created this character, identified in the article simply as "an Egyptian Betty Boop". I can't quite make out her name in the caption (Saad?) but she appeared alongside Mish-Mish, presumably as a love interest:

The same character appears in this group shot - Mish-Mish's supporting cast?