Founded in 1993, Brazil’s Anima Mundi has established itself as the largest animation festival in the Americas and the second largest in the world. Taking place in both São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, its importance for the animation industry in Latin America over the last 26 years has been immeasurable.

But despite its proven success, the next edition of Anima Mundi is currently under threat given that a culture-adverse government has risen to power in the South American country. For all of its history up to this point, the festival had been strongly supported by the Brazilian government through public policies and fiscal incentive laws that encouraged the private sector to invest in cultural projects in exchange for a tax break.

As two of the festival’s co-founders, Léa Zagury and Marcos Magalhaes, tell Cartoon Brew, this set-up allowed Anima Mundi to exists and grow. “The long life of the festival has proven that a solid ground has been paved for the growth of an animation industry in Brazil,” said the organizers.

At first, few Brazilian animated shorts participated, but over the years, the quality and number of locally-produced Brazilian content has greatly increased. For each of the last five editions, there were an average of 100 Brazilian works selected. Last year, Anima Mundi was part of a tribute highlighting Brazilian animation at the Annecy festival, which commemorated the achievements of local artists and producers.

Everything seemed promising until Jair Bolsonaro became president at the beginning of this year. Bosonaro, a former military officer, stripped away arts and culture funding across the country, and government agencies and corporations were encouraged to discontinue financial support for cultural ventures, especially audiovisual production.

As a result, Anima Mundi finds itself without its usual funding streams, and it now faces the possibility of cancelling its 2019 edition. In order to remain on course, the festival has had to optimize its expenses, while looking for alternative sponsorship and funding. “We keep making contact with many potential sponsors, but there are no concrete answers yet and the festival date is quite soon,” the organizers say. “It’s a very crucial moment and we’ve realized that we need to mobilize and engage our animation community.”

For now, Anima Mundi has opted to appeal to the global animation community by setting up a crowdfunding campaign through Benfeitoria, Brazil’s most popular crowdfunding website.

“We’ve started reaching out for help to the Brazilian animation industry, including studios, television stations, animators, students, and also the fans. Now, we also feel that we need to address the international industry, including festivals and friends from abroad, because time is ticking, and we are very worried.”

Because of the financial constraints, the 27th edition will be much more compact, but will still include shorts and features in competition, special screenings, children’s programs, experimental films, virtual reality projects, as well as special guests for masterclasses and panels. It is currently scheduled to take place July 17-21 in Rio de Janeiro and July 24-28 in São Paulo.

“We want to keep the essence of the festival alive, with the core energy that we had in the beginning. This year it will be smaller but unforgettable, a festival made with love and resilience,” Zagury and Magalhaes tell Cartoon Brew. “For future years, we plan to reorganize our expenses and activities. We will bring new ideas and partnerships, so the event will be able to survive these unstable times.”

If you want to donate to Anima Mundi, here is the crowdfunding website: https://benfeitoria.com/animamundi. Donors outside of Brazil can also donate via Paypal by clicking on “international donations.” All rewards are described in English on the website. The festival is also open to receive contributions such as artworks and services that may reduce costs or generate income to be used in the production of the festival.

If you have difficulty donating through the crowdfunding site, you can email Anima Mundi at: [email protected]

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