Pakistan has had its fair share of problems where with terrorism, corruption and moral decline have made sure that the arts and entertainment are sidelined. However, many artists of this generation are trying to break this barrier, and produce work that is a source of national pride. Usman Riaz’s film The Glassworker will become the Pakistan’s first completely hand-animated feature film. It is through the vision and deliberation of artists of today, that we have a chance of reclaiming a culture of animation and art that we have lost.
In 2015, Riaz gave a TED talk, in Tokyo dissecting his love and appreciation for animation—in particular Miyazaki’s films at Studio Ghibli. He also introduced the world to The Glassworker, then still in storyboard stage. Even then, the strong influence of Japanese animation was evident, as was the distinct Pakistani flavour that makes Riaz’s endeavour so exciting. This digital artist from Pakistan has launched a KickStarter campaign, a social media tool where people can donate funds, to launch of this animation film. This attempt will help lay the foundation and support a new generation of artists. The film, a love story between an apprentice glassworker and a virtuoso violinist, according to Riaz is a comment on the affects of war on children. His brainchild, Mano Animation Studios aiming to support new work and seed opportunities for a new generation of artists in Pakistan and beyond.
While a handful of Pakistani animators, such as Mir Zafar Ali, Asim Fida Khan, and Wajid Raza, among others, stand as Hollywood success stories, Pakistan’s animation industry remains in a fledgling stage. Also new to this scene is a trio of comic book creators, working on Paasban, or “Guardian”, a series featuring a group of close friends at college who begin to worry when one of them drops out to join a religious student group that is ostensibly working for charitable causes. This focus on violent extremism, a matter of great current importance, has been illustrated into a campaign to revive the importance of language, as well as an awareness of socio-political issues in the country. It open new avenues for artists, a community that has always struggled for space, as well providing our youth with well crafted and thoughtful entertainment.
This revival of animated shows for children and adults alike is gradual but hopeful. What is needed is the support of mainstream television channels and media houses to make sure such enlightening content is introduced on a regular basis. It has the potential to have a transformative impact on the way children view civic responsibility, providing a holistic view of the problems and solutions for Pakistani society and beyond.