Shorts, features, series, pilots, and more – the next generation of Latina directors have ambitious goals for their art and are constantly working to move their projects forward. With Ventana Sur currently taking place in Buenos Aires, we decided to take a look at a handful of the most exciting Latina animation filmmakers plying their trade today.
According to the White Book of the Quirino Awards (PDF download), of the nearly 300 animated feature films produced in Latin America throughout history, fewer than twenty were directed exclusively by women, with only a few more from mixed-gender teams.
Those numbers don’t match modern sensibilities concerning gender parity in filmmaking but do reflect a reality that needs addressing. A 2021 survey done by Mujeres en el Mundo de la Animación (MUMA) shows that more than 86% of female animation workers are under the age of 35 and that 85% of Mexican women working in animation would like to take a creative director position. Yet those numbers are not reflected among productions coming from Latin America today.
However, thanks to a general increase in opportunities present in the Latin American animation industry and initiatives from several high-profile festivals, such as the tutoring programs of Ventana Sur’s Animation! (Argentina) and Pixelatl’s Girl Power: Pitch Me The Future (Mexico), new woman talent is slowly making their way and establishing themselves in the industry.
Here, we’ve selected seven young women filmmakers as examples of the skill and leadership present in the next generation. None has yet to direct a feature, but they are fighting every day to bring their visions to the screen.
A University of Cinema Studies (Buenos Aires) graduate, Julia Conde made her directorial debut with her student short Espinas, which screened in several international film festivals and proved that stop motion is her specialty.
Aside from her work with puppets, Conde also works as an animator for ads, documentaries, and series.
However, her greatest achievement has been combining her passion for stop-motion animation with Latino trap. She has done collaborations with several artists in this field, including a mixed media short for producer Bizarrap; a trailer for singer Blessd’s most recent album; and her three recent videoclips Jungle, My Bag and Dejame Tranki, made in collaboration with artist LIT killah. These music videos combine several animation techniques, with the last becoming Conde’s biggest hit yet, surpassing 30 million views on Youtube.
Given her success so far, we can be sure there is more on the way from Conde in the future.
Chilean director, illustrator, and comic artist Fernanda Frick jumped to the international scene with her fourth short film, Here’s the Plan, a film that toured the global animation festival circuit, eventually qualifying for the 2017 Oscars, and which later debuted online as part of Cartoon Brew’s CB Fest.
That same year, her series project Raise the Bar caused a stir at Pixelatl and later Ventana Sur’s Animation!, where she won one of the Buenos Aires-based market’s MIFA prizes. In 2018, the project was selected by Netflix as one of its first animated series bets from Latin America, and although the platform later decided not to continue, Frick managed to close an agreement to turn the project into a graphic novel that will be published by Dial /Penguin Random House in 2023. It will be her second graphic novel, following Trazos in 2019.
With her series project IRL Squad, Frick was once again invited to Animation! and won an invitation to pitch at Weird Market in Spain. Currently, Frick’s FFrick Studio is working on adapting Here’s the Plan as an illustrated book and developing two mini-series projects: What if I Don’t ? (2d digital) and Ultimo Viaje (stop motion and 2d digital), a co-production with Plastiestudio and co-director Cecilia Toro.
Having completed her thesis short Tiny Snout and the Hare Migration (Trompita y la migración de liebres), González didn’t wait long to get started on an even more ambitious project with veteran screenwriter Luz Marquez.
El after del mundo tells the story of Flúor and Carlix, two ghosts in comfy sports clothes who find the missing piece to enjoying a beautiful post-apocalyptic world with no people, but with cell phones, music, and the internet.
After debuting in Apa Lab (Córdoba, Argentina), González and her team were selected for Short Way, a program for auteur shorts organized by Mexican association Pixelatl, along with ten other Latin American projects. To finance their trip to Mexico, the team launched a crowdfunding campaign which proved a worthy endeavor that earned them a victory and an invitation to Annecy’s Mifa Market.
With a premise surprisingly fitting for the pandemic, the short impressed juries, producers, and executives in France, managing to score the Arte France award and catching the attention of production agency Autour de Minuit. The now-finished short screened at this year’s Sitges in Spain, had its Asian premiere at Bucheon, and screened at the Uppsala International Short Film Festival in October.
Born in Bolivia, awarded in Argentina, and adopted by Germany, Matisse Gonzalez is one the most exciting rising talents in the field of minimalist animation. With her student short titled Gravedad and a pilot for Cartoon Network Latin America called Era Solo Una Roca Que Se Parecía A Alguien (winner of Girl Power 2: Pitch Me the Future at Pixelatl), the director has demonstrated great maturity to the industry.
Nowadays, Gonzalez devotes her energy to her first movie Condenaditos, chosen for the first tutoring call hosted by Animation! at Ventana Sur and pitched at Annecy 2021.
With its unique 2d aesthetic, the movie turns on a family whose every member is affected by a curse passed on from generation to generation. The youngest daughter Kiki, who is skeptical about the curse, embarks on a journey to find a cure. The film is a comedy for adults with autobiographical shades and mixed animation techniques.
Stop-motion animation is a serious business, especially in Brazil, where Camila Kater had the good fortune of being part of the stop motion process as an animator, art director, and puppet maker on productions including Apple The Trial (2013), Flirt (2015), and Indescribable (2020).
Kater also directed the short Flesh (Carne), an animated documentary that provided plenty to talk about at the 250 festivals where it was shown before qualifying for the 2021 Academy Awards.
The short, produced by Lívia Perez (Doctela) and Chelo Loureiro (Abano Producións), features the testimonies of five women reflecting on their bodies and the larger society around them. Each story is animated using different techniques.
Better known as Kalosita on social media, Conny Miranda is one of the co-founders, alongside Bruno Higuera and Fernanda Vasquez, of Studio Morrón in Chile. The studio’s primary goal is to produce its first animated series, no matter what.
One of the most promising projects in their catalog is El Talismán de Sunny, an adventure about a trio of geeky friends in a fantastical age. The project was selected to pitch at Chilemonos 2020 and Pixelatl’s Girl Power: Pitch Me the Future, among others.
However, they took their first major step towards realizing their dream in February, when the Chilean government awarded them funding for their animated project titled Brad the Bad Guy.
During the earlier years of her career, Silvia Prietov couldn’t find her place in the Colombian marketplace. After studying at Vancouver Film School, she made her own by founding Lucy Animation Studio, which has already managed to get the attention of clients such as Marvel, TED, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Apple TV, Sony Music, and Netflix.
Together with Luisa Velázquez, she also created a pilot titled Astro Packers for Cartoon Network Latin America. The pilot, a winner at Pixelatl’s Girl Power 3: Pitch Me the Future, is the story of two eccentric aliens who dive into a journey as cosmic backpackers across nebulae, galaxies, asteroids, and even black holes in search of their own origin.
Prietov’s current work includes the pilot for Madhouse, which won prizes at several animation festivals, and her first feature Halloween, a winning project at Ventana Sur’s Animation! in 2021 which pitched at Annecy and Cinekid Festival this year. Lucy Animation is also producing a short film titled Mitomorfosis which won Colombian film funding in 2021. And this year, Preitov was selected for a residency at APA Lab Argentina to develop Crunchy Human, another short film about to go into pre-production.
This article was originally written in Spanish and later translated to English by Delfina Díaz Vélez.
Pictured at top: Here’s the Plan, Flesh, Astro Packers