The Last Fiction, an independent Iranian animated feature project from Hoorakhsh Studios that that we’ve been tracking for the last six years, is shaping up as the most polished and technically sophisticated feature to ever come out of that country.

The filmmakers, who are currently presenting the project at the Cannes Film Festival, released a new trailer today that offers a taste of the film’s gritty, epic atmosphere:

Hoorakhsh is seeking international distribution and making a strong effort to secure a place for the film in the global marketplace. Earlier this afternoon, the film was presented to producers and distributors at the Cannes Film Festival in an official festival event that was arranged through a partnership with France’s prestigious Annecy animation festival.

The film’s director (and founder of Hoorakhsh) Ashkan Rahgozar told Cartoon Brew that he believes the film will do well internationally because it’s “full of action, drama, and mystery,” and also contains deeper thematic elements that play well across cultures. “The main concept of the film is about humanity,” he wrote in an email. “This film wants to show how a hero can become a villain and how a villain can be good sometimes. It just depends on the path they choose.”

The Last Fiction shouldn’t have any problems finding an audience in its native Iran thanks to a classic story that is known by almost everyone in the country. The film is based on The Book of Kings (Shahnameh), the foundational literary work of Persian culture. The thousand-year-old, 60,000 verse poem written by poet Ferdowsi is considered to be the country’s national epic, and liberally mixes myth and factual history to tell the creation story of the pre-Islamic Persian empire.

Rahgozar said that he’d been intrigued by the poem’s story of the villainous Zahhak since he was a teenager, and that making a film based on Ferdowsi’s poem was an obvious choice: “As Iranians, I think it was in our blood to make a movie about this.”

As the violent trailer indicates, the nearly two-hour action film is geared towards teenagers and adults. The hand-drawn film was made using digital 2D techniques; Hoorakhsh claims to be the first animation studio in Iran that started fully-digital 2D production in 2005. The film also utilizes cg and vfx throughout.

A crew of one hundred people is currently working on the film. Hoorakhsh’s most high-profile projects in the West have been music videos, like this one for King Raam, but the studio has produced an extensive body of work including TV series, video games, 11 shorts, and commercial advertisements for major Iranian brands and companies.

Hoorakhsh aims to finish animation production on The Last Fiction by August 2017, and to have the film ready for release by November 2017. The film’s official website is