With great creative talent, distinct graphic languages, and very solid universes, Latin American animation is making its way internationally.
After inaugurating the San Sebastián Film Festival in 2013, the Argentine Underdogs by Juan José Campanella was sold to around twenty countries. In 2016, Gabriel Osorio’s Chilean short film Bear Story won the first Oscar for the region, which was also present with the nominated feature The Boy and the World by Alê Abreu from Brazil.
During the past few years, Latin American animation has become a fixed player in Annecy; in 2017 there will be two feature films screened at the festival and several projects at MIFA. This month, the Peruvian project-in-development Nuna by Jimy Carhuas will be shown in Cannes as part of the La Fabrique des Cinémas du Monde program.
Around 100 feature-length animated films are currently being developed or produced across Central and South America. Most of them are craftily produced in modest studios with immense creative potential, the financial architecture being the main obstacle for most films. In order to alleviate this, government development measures are being implemented, and at the same time regional and international co-production is becoming an upward trend.
The places that produce the majority of the live-action films are also the most dynamic in terms of animation, such as Brazil, which is developing around thirty films – including the next one by Alê Abreu and Luiz Bolognesi – and Mexico, where animation has been responsible for several of the latest blockbusters, such as the Huevocartoon phenomenon or The Legends theatrical series by Ánima Studios, the company that is also behind Guardians of Oz and the cgi Top Cat Begins.
The Peruvian 3D industry is among the most dynamic nowadays and is producing, among others, Condorito by Alex Orrelle and Eduardo Schuldt, to be released in 2017, and Ainbo by José Zelada, with sales represented by the American company CMG. Other blooming countries, such as Chile or Colombia, are developing around a dozen films apiece.
We present 10 projects below that are part of the emerging Latin American animation production scene and are worth keeping an eye on.
1. Virus Tropical
Colombian filmmaker’s debut. Solid 2D aesthetics in black and white for this adaptation of the successful Virus Tropical comic by Colombian-Ecuadorian PowerPaola that has been published throughout the entire continent as well as in Spain, France, and the United States. This Latin American Persepolis arrives in theaters in 2017.
Feature debut by one of the most important names in Mexican stop motion. Inzomnia is a fantastic and dystopian film that brings together a team formed by national professionals such as Karla Castañeda and international stop motion artists.
3. Dalia and the Red Book (Dalia y el libro rojo)
The director of Rodencia and the Princess’s Tooth is now working on Dalia and the Red Book, an endearing story for the whole family with an innovative mixed media technique that combines cgi with stop-motion sets, textures, and lighting.
4. Bob Cuspe – We Don’t Like People (Bob Cuspe – nós não gostamos de gente)
After award-winning shorts, César Cabral, Brazilian stop-motion icon, makes his feature film debut. Cabral puts together cartoon character, Bob Cuspe (a survivor punk), and his creator, comic strip writer Angeli, in a lyrical and surreal comedy dubbed by Milhem Cortaz, Paulo Miklos, Grace Gianoukas, and Angeli himself.
5. Ana & Bruno (Ana y Bruno)
One of the most anticipated regional films that, after several years of development, will have its premiere at Annecy next month. A film for the whole family about Ana and her fantastic friends that marks the return to animation of Carlos Carrera, winner of the Palme d’Or in Cannes for the animated short El héroe (1994).
6. Nahuel and the Magical Book (Nahuel y el libro mágico)
Produced by Pato Escala, producer of the Oscar-winning Bear Story, Nahuel and the Magical Book is a 2D story that takes place in the cultural and natural universe of the magical archipelago of Chiloé. Chilean filmmaker’s debut will premiere in 2018.
7. Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos)
One of the most iconic legends in the Aztecs’ land functions as a muse to this film, which is set in a 3D universe of pure Mexican idiosyncrasy. This film will be Carlos Gutiérrez’s debut and it already has a release date in Mexico: November 3, 2017.
8. Lila’s Book (El libro de Lila)
The first animated movie from the Cauca region of Colombia. A film that combines 2D and 3D techniques to tell a story set in Cali that feeds from other natural landscapes in Colombia. Debut feature by Marcela Rincón, director of the series Guillermina and Candelario.
After making several short films, the Esparza brothers recreate the Mochica Empire from Pre-Columbian era to develop their first animated feature. With Magaly Solier and Marcello Rivera lending their voices to the main characters, Mochica will be released in theaters in 2018.
The first animated feature film from Minas Gerais is 2D. It uses references from real images and sound, and will be distributed by Vitrine Filmes. A trip through indigenous villages based on the story by German ethnologist Curt Nimuendajú, who from 1903 until his death studied the native communities of Brazil.
(This piece is adapted from an article originally published in LatamCinema.com.)