June 13, 2021

Swipe: A Visual Review

On the surface Swipe – an animated short film, explores religious intolerance, morality, violence and the motives behind it. It speaks through binaries and brings into view greater conversations around injustice, about who gets to decide who is innocent or guilty, and how power is distributed in our society. Underneath all this, however, it is a film that works towards making possible a way of expression and communication that is based on sincerity and vulnerability. It is a gentle, deeply poignant approach to talking about crucial issues that are otherwise instantly labelled controversial, and speaks to the viewer on a personal, moral and almost existential level.

Left, Right, Good, Bad,
Right, Wrong, Innocent, Guilty

The Story of Swipe unfolds in the space between these binaries
Left, Right, Good, Bad,
Right, Wrong, Innocent, Guilty
The story of Swipe unfolds in the space between these binaries.
The space marked by the confusion and chaos that these seemingly discrete terms engender.
A space marked by the confusion and chaos that these seemingly discrete terms engender.
And the lack of integrity they hold in a justice system that has been erected on dishonesty, erasure and pretense.
And the lack of integrity they hold in a justice system that has been erected on dishonesty, erasure and pretense.
The protagonist oscillates rapidly between these binaries, leaving behind a trail we must follow, a trail descending into the heart of the film to reveal its silent centre...
The protagonist oscillates rapidly between these binaries, leaving behind a trail we must follow, a trail descending into the heart of the film to reveal its silent centre…
...a solemn request to look around and look within and question oneself.
…a solemn request to look around and look within and question oneself.
We are taken there gradually, carefully with a gentleness and curiosity that forms the basis of honest storytelling.
We are taken there gradually, carefully, with a gentleness and curiosity that forms the basis of honest storytelling.
 And this, we discover, is the real task of the film - to speak with conviction but not without fear...

...to raise one's trembling fist against injustice.
And this, we discover, is the real task of the film – to speak with conviction but not without fear…
…to raise one’s trembling fist against injustice.
Because to be afraid is to be human, and in a society where honesty is difficult, harrowing work, one needs to hold on to one's humanity.
Because to be afraid is to be human, and in a society where honesty is difficult, harrowing work, one needs to hold on to one’s humanity.
Perhaps this is why Wipe is so haunting; it is deeply personal. Our gaze is able to penetrate the screen and see the faces telling the story.

Reflected in them are our own...

...and we leave with a quiet and heavy heart, but a heart that strives to do good.
Perhaps this is why Swipe is so haunting; it is deeply personal. Our gaze is able to penetrate the screen and see the faces telling the story.
Reflected in them are our own…
…and we leave with a quiet and heavy heart, but a heart that strives to do good.

Watch Swipe here:

Written by

Isma Gul Hasan is an illustrator based in Lahore, Pakistan. She received her Bachelor's degree in Visual Communication Design from Beaconhouse National University in 2017, and completed an MA in Illustration from Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts London in 2020. Working within the realms of speculative fiction and design for social change, her work explores themes like memory, hope, agency and control in relation to patriarchal oppression and violence. Hasan has worked as an illustrator and animator at Shehri Pakistan, an initiative aiming to provide accessible civic education through audio-visual content, and was the creative director for the first ever dystopian, traditionally animated Pakistani short film Shehr-e-Tabassum, which was screened both locally and internationally, and received critical acclaim.

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