Pakistan’s first hand-drawn film, Mano Animation Studios’ The Glassworker, is among eight feature films from all over the globe selected for the Work In Progress category at France’s Annecy International Animation Festival 2022.
“It is truly an honour to represent Pakistan at Annecy 2022. To have our first feature film, The Glassworker, on the same stage as so many incredible and inspiring animated films that have come before us is genuinely humbling,” said Usman Riaz, the director.
Calling it an amazing opportunity, he said this will open up avenues for expansion in the animation world. “To be the first hand-drawn feature film to come from Pakistan and for it to be acknowledged by our peers is extremely encouraging. I love the craft of animation more than anything in the world, I have dedicated my life to it. With Annecy Work in Progress, we are in the incredible position to share my love for the craft with the most outstanding studios, artists and animators in the world.”
The Film Festival is recognised globally and is always on the lookout for anything that stands out in the world of animation. The Work in Progress list determines and narrows down films bursting with the potential for future awards and box office success. Some of the high-profile films that have made the cut include Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse, Klaus and How to Train Your Dragon 2.
Usman’s feature film is an original story about young Vincent and his father Tomas, who run the finest glass workshop in the country and find their lives upended by an impending war in which they want no part. The arrival in their town of an army colonel and his young, talented violinist daughter, Alliz, shakes their reality and tests the relationship between father and son.
Annecy Work in Progress will be a 75-minute detailed showcase to industry professionals on Mano Animation Studios and The Glassworker.
Renowned Spanish producer Manuel Cristóbal will be joining the team. Calling Usman “a new voice worth recovering,” he was moved by the story and taken aback by the quality of the film. He called the director the “driving force” behind the project, saying he was excited for the film and the fresh voice breaking through.
Inspired by Japanese animation film studio, Studio Ghibli, Usman followed suit and founded Mano Animation Studios in Karachi alongside Khizer Riaz and Mariam Riaz Paracha. He adopted Ghibli’s co-founder Hayao Miyazaki’s hand-drawn animation preference that’s revered by people all over the world for The Glassworker. “One of my proudest accomplishments was when Studio Ghibli bought my film Wrinkles and distributed it in Japan. Wrinkles was the first and only Spanish film Ghibli bought,” he shared.
The Glassworker project involves young and talented artists with a median age of 27 years and 52 per cent of the team is female. It’s been described as a project full of surprises that encourages diversity in animation. Mano Animation has built a collaboration network that extends to Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, Peru, Argentina, the United States and the United Kingdom.