Charades has acquired Usman Riaz’s animated feature “The Glassworker,” one of the highlights of Annecy Film Festival’s work-in-progress sidebar.
Pakistan’s first hand-drawn animated feature, “The Glassworker” is produced by “Wrinkles” producer Manuel Cristobal and Pakistan-based Mano Animation Studios, founded by Usman, Khizer Riaz and Mariam Riaz.
The feature, which is aimed at family audiences, is a love tale set in a war-torn country loosely inspired by Pakistan. The story follows young Vincent and his father Tomas, who run the finest glass workshop in the country and find their lives upended by an approaching war in which they want no part. The arrival in their town of an army colonel and his young aspiring violinist daughter, Alliz, shakes their reality and tests the relationship between father and son. As the love develops between Vincent and Alliz, they will need to gather up their courage to confront their fathers.
Scheduled for a 2023 release, “The Glassworker” boasts an authentic voice cast of South Asian talent, including Sacha Dhawan, best-known for his work in Hulu’s “The Great,” Marvel’s “Iron Fist” and Doctor Who; Anjli Mohindra, whose well-known credits include “The Sarah Jane Adventures” and “Doctor Who, as well as the BBC One drama “Vigil,” and Art Malik (“True Lies,” “Sherlock”).
“‘The Glassworker’ is a glimpse into how we grew up in Pakistan,” says Riaz. “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. “
“With its vibrant colors and ever-changing forms, I feel it is a magical medium to explore with hand-drawn animation,” Riaz continued.
The filmmaker, who is also producing the feature through his company Mano Animation Studios, added that he hopes “audiences will watch ‘The Glassworker’ and be moved by its story, and the love I have for hand-drawn animation.”
Charades‘ co-founder Yohann Comte, said the feature was not only 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,” added Comte, who is an animation buff.
Producers Cristobal and Khizer Riaz said “the idea with Mano was to create international quality work in Pakistan, led by a talented director in Usman Riaz.”
“Signing with the prestigious and talent driven Charades is a stamp of approval for the film and is a huge honor for us,” the pair continued.
“Glassworker” marks the first collaboration between Charades and Cristobal who previously produced Ignacio Ferreras’s “Wrinkles” which won the jury award at Annecy.
Cristobal is a Madrid-based producer whose track record in animation includes two jury prizes at Annecy, five wins at the Spanish Film Academy Goya awards, as well as prizes from the European Film Academy EFA Award and the Platino Award. He also executive produced “Another Day of Life,” by Raúl de la Fuente and Damian Nenow, which went on to win the EFA Award and premiered at the Cannes Festival.
Charades has been selling a number of critically acclaimed animated features from around the world. The company has handled “The Little Nicholas: Happy As Can Be” from France, “Belle” from Japan, “Chicken for Linda!” from Italy, and “Even Mice Belong in Heaven” from the Czech Republic, among others.