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Festival by Pixelatl begins today in Cuernavaca, Mexico, in what promises to be the largest-ever animation industry event that has ever happened in Mexico. Two earlier editions of the festival—Chroma Fest and Laguna Fest—have taken place the past few years, but this year’s event is unprecedented in scale and scope within the Mexican animation community.

One of the major goals of the event, which is sponsored by the government-funded organization Pixelatl, is to foster a culture in which Mexican studios develop, produce, and export original IP.

Even as the animation industry in Mexico has expanded over the past decade, most of the industry money flows from service-oriented work for non-Mexican Western producers and only a handful of original TV series have been created in Mexico over the past decade. The feature industry is also in its nascent stages: budgets are beginning to grow–especially through government grants and tax incentives—but there are few studios that can offer consistent employment, which makes it difficult to build production teams and focus on long-term development.

With these goals in mind, the major component of Festival by Pixelatl is the Idea Toon summit. Animation studios and independent directors from around Mexico were invited to submit ideas, and over 250 projects were submitted. From these entries, sixteen finalists were selected to pitch their projects at the event, and one project will be selected to receive $250,000 pesos (approx. US$19,000) to produce the project. All of the attendees will have the ability to participate in workshops to refine their ideas, as well as meet with other studios, producers, and network executives.

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The scope of the festival and summit can be seen in its list of invited guests, which includes the largest delegation of foreign guests ever invited to a Mexican animation event. Among the dozens of animators, studio owners, execs, and industry figures who will be presenting workshops, lectures, and panel discussions are John Kricfalusi (Ren & Stimpy), Robert Valley (Wonder Woman, Gorillaz), Stephan Franck (The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow), Marty Cooper (Aug(De)Mented Reality), Luiz Bolognesi (Rio 2096), Disney Interactive artist Gabby Zapata, Portuguese animation director Abi Feijo, Katarzyna Gromadzka and Szymon Wolski of the Polish studio Se-ma-for, Jim Parkyn of Aardman, and Augusto Schillaci (vfx supervisor of Fox’s The Book of Life). I’m excited to be among the attendees at the festival, where I will present a talk on creative lessons to be learned from the life of Disney director and animator Ward Kimball.

Festival by Pixelatl runs through this Sunday. For more information on the event, visit ElFestival.mx.

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