A Narrative of Love Over War

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MOVIE REVIEW
The Glassworker

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Genre: Animation, Romance
Year Released: 2024
Runtime: 1h 38m
Director(s): Usman Riaz
Writer(s): Moya O'Shea, Usman Riaz
Cast: Art Malik, Sacha Dhawan, Anjli Mohindra, Tony Jayawardena, Teresa Gallaghar, Mina Anwar, Sham Ali, Maya Saroya
Where To Watch: shown at the 2024 Annecy International Animation Film Festival


RAVING REVIEW: THE GLASSWORKER signals a seismic shift in the global animation landscape as Pakistan unveils its first-ever hand-drawn feature. Directed by the visionary Usman Riaz, this film combines the grace of traditional anime with a powerful narrative, promising to dazzle viewers. While taking clear inspiration from other works in hand-drawn animation, the film works to establish its style and story. The only knock on the film would be that I would have liked to have seen a little more heart to the story. There were moments when I saw the potential, but it didn’t seem consistent. 


Meet Vincent (Sacha Dhawan) and his father Tomas (Art Malik,) the master artisans behind the most esteemed glass workshop in their area, drawing inspiration from the heart of Pakistan. Once peaceful and productive, their world faces the chaos of imminent war, further complicated by the arrival of a military colonel and his musically inclined daughter, Alliz (Anjli Mohindra.) This addition sparks a gripping saga of family ties strained under the pressure of looming conflict.

A delicate interplay of love, aspirations, and societal conflicts is at the narrative's heart. Vincent's deepening feelings for Alliz propel them both into a vortex of personal dreams clashing with familial expectations set against a war-torn backdrop. The film captures the essence of their struggle between pursuing individual freedoms and adhering to the harsh realities of societal norms.

THE GLASSWORKER is a groundbreaking initiative by Mano Animation Studios. Crafted over a decade under Usman Riaz's direction and supported by co-producers Khizer Riaz and Manuel Cristobal and executive producer Apoorva Bakshi, this film is not just a story told but a milestone in creating a hub for innovative animation in Pakistan. One that I hope to see future works from!

The visual storytelling is exceptional, drawing inspiration from the esteemed Studio Ghibli. Every frame is meticulously crafted to showcase the rich, hand-drawn artistry. This film's visuals are complemented by the heartfelt voice performances of Malik, Dhawan, Mohindra, and Tony Jayawardena as the Colonel and others, adding depth to the vividly portrayed characters.

With its upcoming release in Pakistan by Mandviwala Entertainment on July 26, THE GLASSWORKER is poised to illuminate Pakistani cinema's creative prowess. It's an audacious leap into the international animation scene, heralding a new era for the region's narrative arts. I will forever stand behind hand-drawn animation, which inherently has a deeper human connection than modern CGI.

The creation of Pakistan's first is a testament to the tenacity and innovative spirit of Usman Riaz and his team at Mano Animation Studios. Their dedication to pushing creative boundaries within the animation sector is evident, making THE GLASSWORKER not just a cinematic release but a beacon of cultural and artistic innovation.

THE GLASSWORKER does more than narrate a tale; it carves out a path for future generations of storytellers and animators in the region, setting a new standard for film's artistic and narrative quality for years to come.

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[photo courtesy of MANO ANIMATION STUDIOS, CHARADES]

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