Foreign animation distributor GKIDS announced yesterday that they have acquired North American rights to the Brazilian film Boy and the World (O Menino e o Mundo). The film screens in competition this week at the Annecy animation festival, where another Brazilian feature, Rio 2096, won the Annecy Cristal last year.

The film is directed by Alê Abreu, who made his feature film debut in 2007 with Garoto Cósmico (Cosmic Boy). Boy and the World depicts the young country boy Cuca whose “cozy life is shattered when his father leaves for the city, prompting him to embark on a quest to reunite his family.” The underlying themes explore “a clash between poor and rich, countryside and city, indigenous and imperial, handcrafted and mechanizes—and throughout the tumult, the heart and soul of the people beats on as a song.”

Foreign animated films, most often produced on budgets that are a fraction of their American counterparts, have the best chance of standing out in the crowded feature marketpace by being as unique and unconventional as possible. Boy and the World would appear to succeed on this count: it is dialogue-less, scored to the sounds of samba and Brazilian hip-hop, hand-drawn, and designed with a strong visual design component, which GKIDS played up in its press release:

Simple line drawings of the village give way to broad brushstrokes forming giant bushels of cotton lining country roads and sweeps of pastel churned into roaring waves. Approaching the city, industrial landscapes are inhabited by animal-machines, whirling carnival colors and exploding fireworks fill the sky above decoupage favelas, while flashing neon advertisements and garish shop windows illuminate the night.

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