Saturday July 13, 2024

The Glassworker finds what it was looking for

By Maheen Sabeeh
November 02, 2022

2022 is turning out to be a brilliant year for Mano Animation Studios (MAS), and their upcoming hand-drawn debut film, The Glassworker, which will be dubbed in English and Urdu.

The film, a coming-of-age story, puts a spotlight on the art of glass-blowing with two characters at its heart: Vincent and Alliz. The former is a novice glassblower, who is learning the art from his father Tomas Oliver, while the latter is a virtuoso violinist. Both belong to different worlds but their connected stories will showcase the affects of war on children during seminal years in scr¬upulous fashion. We will also watch Alliz and Vincent growing up, and become a part of their journey as relationships and lives become more complex. This may be a very basic description of the film, but the ideas behind the project are as detailed and layered as its meticulous animation.

While work on the film continues, some things are shaping up rather nicely. As the team of Mano Animation Studios grew over the years, they found voice actors for some of the film’s major characters. A number of well-established South Asian actors have come on board to voice the English (dubbed) version, confirmed Usman Riaz to Instep Today. Among them is Sacha Dhawan (Hulu’s The Great, Marvel’s Iron Fist and Doctor Who) who will be the voice of Vincent Oliver. Anjli Mohindra (The Sarah Jane Adventures, Doctor Who and BBC One drama Vigil) has been cast as Alliz Amano and Art Malik (Sherlock, True Lies) has been cast as Tomas Oliver. According to Usman, “This is specifically for the English dub.”

Getting prominent actors to voice the English-dubbed film in particular isn’t the only big news for Mano Animation Studios. MAS will reveal

the Urdu voice actors in the coming days and weeks, which is sure to be interesting,

while the team still basks in its success at Annecy’s WIP section. According to a

report published in Variety, this exceptional production has been acquired by Charades, a Paris-based world sales banner. The co-founder of the company, Yohann Comte told Variety that The Glassworker was “a wonderful homage to the early work of Miyazaki and the work of Hosoda,” but also “widens the horizon of entertaining and intelligent animation by putting Pakistan and Mano studios on the map of the new talents to watch.

“Charades has always had a passion for first-time directors, and this is an impressive debut film by Usman Riaz,” he added.

Producers Cristobal and Khizer Riaz, speaking to Variety, explained why signing with Charades was a good step for the film.

“Signing with the prestigious and talent-driven Charades is a stamp of approval for the film and is a huge honor for us.”

Talking to Variety, Usman Riaz reflected on the film and noted, “The Glassworker is a glimpse into how we grew up in Pakistan. It can be seen in the conflicts, the local legends, the characters’ clothing, the food they eat, and the colonial architecture.

The art of glassblowing has never been depicted in any film.”

“Standing in the hall of fame/And the world’s gonna know your name/Cause you burn with the brightest flame.” – ‘Hall of Fame’ by The Script

Before CGI (computer generated imagery) became common when creating animated and non-animated films, the traditional form of animation relied on hand-drawn animation. In Pakistan, the first hand-drawn animated facility is Mano Animation Studios, co-founded and headed by the prodigious and humble Usman Riaz. He has written the story for The Glassworker in addition to directing it as well. The core team for MAS also includes Mariam Riaz (art director, associate producer), Khizer Riaz (producer, line producer), Aamir Riffat (animation director), and Sofia Abdullah (head of character design). An addition to the same core team transpired early this year with Manuel Cristobal coming onboard as executive producer. A prominent name in the field, he is associated with terrific films including Wrinkles.

Not only did he come on board in 2022, but the film went onto find a spot at France’s Annecy International Animation Film Festival, which is considered the Cannes of animation work.

During Annecy, The Glassworker was selected in the WIP (work in progress) section. Only eight projects were selected in total. The Glassworker was among the selected names and post presentation, it went on to receive a standing ovation.

Given how quickly, the buzz is spreading about the film, it looks like this project is unstoppable. Apart from talented artists working in the studio, Mano Animation Studios has formed a network of collaborators in multiple countries such as Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Peru, Argentina, Spain, the United States, and the United Kingdom, making this a truly international standard film. We can hardly wait.

– The Glassworker is scheduled to release in 2023.