Kickstart Pakistan’s First Hand-Animated Feature Film, The Glassworker, Inspired by Hayao Miyazaki

Casu­al ani­ma­tion fans have a cer­tain men­tal map of where inter­est­ing ani­mat­ed films come from, whose high­light­ed places include, of course, Amer­i­ca and Japan, as well as the Sovi­et republics that pro­duced some tru­ly strange and won­der­ful stuff back in the day behind the Iron Cur­tain. But now, a 25-year-old ani­ma­tor named Usman Riaz aims to put his home­land on that map as well with The Glass­work­er, which, should he raise its bud­get on Kick­starter, will become Pak­istan’s very first whol­ly hand-ani­mat­ed fea­ture film.

“Over the past five years, Riaz became known for an impres­sive, self-taught style of play­ing music that land­ed him the TED stage, on NPR’s Tiny Desk Con­cert, and an affil­i­a­tion with EMI Pak­istan,” writes Beck­ett Muf­son at The Cre­ators Project. [We fea­tured him play­ing gui­tar here on OC 5 years ago. See the clip below.] “But rather than tum­bling down the rab­bit hole of a music career in Pak­istan, he’s embraced his oth­er love: ani­ma­tion.” Muf­son quotes Riaz as remem­ber­ing how, “when I was a child, I admired the way peo­ple made pic­tures move. I spent long hours watch­ing films by Stu­dio Ghi­b­li before I could ful­ly under­stand what their mes­sages were. And they helped me see the beau­ty in the mun­dane, and the tragedy in the beau­ti­ful.”

Watch The Glass­work­er’s teas­er at the top or its Kick­starter pro­mo video just above, and you’ll imme­di­ate­ly feel the influ­ence of Stu­dio Ghi­b­li, mak­ers of such already time­less movies as Nau­si­caä of the Val­ley of the WindMy Neigh­bor Totoro, and Spir­it­ed Away, and its mas­ter­mind Hayao Miyaza­ki. Their inspi­ra­tion man­i­fests not just in the look of the film’s art, but also in its warty com­ing-of-age sto­ry involv­ing a young boy, an appren­tice glass­work­er, a young girl, and a vio­lin­ist, and even in its music, which to Riaz has the utmost impor­tance to sto­ry­telling: “The music deter­mines the scenes for me,” he said in his Cre­ators Project inter­view. “If I have a par­tic­u­lar idea or score writ­ten down the visu­als come auto­mat­i­cal­ly.”

If all goes accord­ing to plan and The Glass­work­er rais­es its $50,000 bud­get on Kick­starter with­in the next 45 days, Mano Ani­ma­tion Stu­dios — which Riaz found­ed along with a group of ani­ma­tors, design­ers, and pro­duc­ers from not just Pak­istan, but the Unit­ed States, Britain, and Malaysia just for this project — will release the movie in four parts, the first of which should appear in May of next year. Now that Miyaza­ki has osten­si­bly ani­mat­ed his last film, his fans have kept their eyes open for a pos­si­ble suc­ces­sor, though as Riaz him­self insists, “Noth­ing can touch Ghi­b­li.” But in this day and age, why should­n’t that suc­ces­sor come from Pak­istan?

viaThe Cre­ators Project

Relat­ed Con­tent:

French Stu­dent Sets Inter­net on Fire with Ani­ma­tion Inspired by Moe­bius, Syd Mead & Hayao Miyaza­ki

The Simp­sons Pay Won­der­ful Trib­ute to the Ani­me of Hayao Miyaza­ki

Watch Hayao Miyaza­ki Ani­mate the Final Shot of His Final Fea­ture Film, The Wind Ris­es

The Gui­tar Prodi­gy from Karachi

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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