In the midst of an Oscar nomination campaign for his recent animated feature The Boy and the World (O Menino e o Mundo), the award-winning Brazilian director Alê Abreu has announced his next explorative project: the feature film Voyagers of the Enchanted Forest. He revealed the news and first image from the project exclusively to Cartoon Brew.
“I believe that, deep down, all of an artist’s works are connected, and there’s a lot between The Boy and the World and Voyagers of the Enchanted Forest,” Abreu told Cartoon Brew, via email from Brazil. “Both feature characters in transit, beholding worlds revealing themselves. Voyages and displacement are frequent in my movies.”
Arriving stateside in December from GKIDS, The Boy and the World’s young wanderer Cuca is spirited away from his rural village to a world of industrial intrigue, while Voyagers of the Enchanted Forest’s lost kids seek refuge from aliens and giants in an environmental setting resonating with fear and curiosity, said Abreu, who seeks to “express the forest in drawing and animation as honestly as possible.”
Developed with Luiz Bolognesi, another Brazilian award-winner, Voyagers of the Enchanted Forest will be a co-production between Abreu’s Filme de Papel and Bolognesi and Laís Bodanzky’s Buriti Filmes. Over consecutive years, Abreu and Bolognesi laid the foundation for the project at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, where the former’s Boy and the World won the Cristal for Best Feature Film in 2014, and the latter’s Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury won the same award in 2013.
It’s a collaboration grounded in transformative Brazil — where demand for smart, arty animated film is on the rise — but also aimed at the hearts and minds of viewers from parts outward seeking compelling stories from new voices. “We’ve found that we have an affinity, and complementary characteristics,” Abreu said of his relationship with Bolognesi. “I’m sure that we’ll make two great movies,” referring to Voyagers as well as Bolognesi’s own project which is currently in development, the war-torn sci-fi feature, Immortals.
“The Boy and the World has been sold to over 90 countries, and soon will be in the United States from GKIDS, who has prepared a very special release,” Abreu said. “This movie surprised us. It’s a joy to see a film made with so few resources, around US$500,000, by a very small team, with aesthetics going in the opposite direction of what the market is selling, come this far. It’s more than joy; it fills me with hope.”
Abreu is still working on Voyagers of the Enchanted Forest’s script and storyboards, so its animation style and software has yet to be specified. But its influences are rooted in the speculative vibrations of the 1970s, a global period of sci-fi and fantasy crossover, as well as more post-millennial cross-pollinations.
“I was led into my forest by the progressive and psychedelic rock of Yes and Rush, as well as present-day Tame Impala,” Abreu explained. “I believe these bands are to Voyagers as Sigur Rós was to The Boy and the World. Voyagers of the Enchanted Forest’s psychedelic influence can also be found in Jean ‘Moebius’ Girard, and his Heavy Metal gang.”
No release date has been set for the film yet. Abreu tells Cartoon Brew that his studio is currently exploring co-production possibilities with producers in France and Luxembourg.