Pixelatl 2023 Pixelatl 2023

Pixelatl, Mexico’s premiere animation festival kicks off next month in Guadalajara.

The festival has, traditionally, recruited a leading Mexican studio or artist to produce its trailer. This year, Pixelatl changed things up and asked Colombian outfit Lucy Animation Studio to handle the production of this year’s video.

Festival head Jose Iñesta says that part of the decision to look outside of Mexico for this year’s studio is representative of a larger need for community and connection in animation. According to him:

We are living in uncertain times, with executives focusing on making money in the short term and technology threatening to replace actors and writers. However, we are in an industry that tells stories and connects people. Stories cannot be replaced by profits and human interaction can’t be replaced with artificial intelligence.  With all these uncertainties in our world, we wanted to shout that we need to start connecting again, trusting each other, and focusing on what the industry is about: People and stories.

The theme for this year’s event is “Dare to believe.” According to organizers, that belief must include oneself and others, because “only through others can we grow and truly heal.” The mantra is delivered with the understanding that Latin America and the world have become very polarized and that to move forward, communities much find and lean on what unites them.

It feels almost unfair to refer to the annual Pixelatl promos as trailers. They’re always conceived, developed, and produced as stand-alone shorts that address certain themes the festival hopes to embody in any given year, and this time around is no different. The animation in this year’s trailer is top notch and in fairly short order it’s able to tell a coherent story about teamwork and the importance of community.

The 2023 Pixelatl trailer was written by Lucy founder Silvia Prietov and Dario Pérez, with Prietov directing and Karina Forero producing. Prietov also served as art director alongside the film’s concept artist and character designer Pakoto. Animatics were done by Mario Carrascal and backgrounds were painted by Sophia Prieto.

As has become a tradition for us, we caught up with this year’s trailer director, a Cartoon Brew top Latina director to keep an eye on, to discuss her studio’s collaboration with Pixelatl, the need for collaboration among Latin American animators, and what else the crew at Lucy Animation is working on.

Cartoon Brew: How did you end up getting commissioned to do this video? Did they approach you, did you pitch them, or was it something more mutual?

Prietov: The collaboration with Pixelatl started about four years ago. I first went to the festival in 2019 and immediately fell in love with the environment, the atmosphere, and the community that characterizes it. There, I also received valuable feedback on my projects and met wonderful people from the animation industry. It gave me an understanding of the importance of an event like this in Latin America. From there I constantly expressed my admiration and love for the festival to the organizers and little by little we developed a stronger relationship as my studio and our projects grew. This year, Pixelatl was looking for a Latin American studio outside of Mexico that was headed by a woman. That is how Lucy became the creative partner for this year’s trailer and it was with a full heart and with all the love in the world we accepted. For me and for the entire team, it was always clear that we share a vision and a very important mission with Pixelatl, and that is to generate a community in the Latin American animation industry and give space to voices that, until now, have not had it.

What were the instructions given to you by the festival? And how involved were they throughout production?

Jose and Jordy Iñesta gave me as a starting point, a universe that we were going to build to deal with the issues of trust, resilience, and healing. At first, it was difficult for me to come up with an idea of how to do that since I was afraid of doing something very cliché or cheesy. Eventually, I let myself go, trusted myself and our team, and we began to create this universe where these genderless beings, which could be animals, microorganisms, or even little people, live in harmony and work as a team. We managed to build a credible universe including a life lesson about letting go, trusting others, and leaning on those around us to heal our wounds while being there for those who need to lean on us. Not only did this idea become a very relevant concept for me, for Lucy’s team, and for Pixelatl, but I feel that it is a very relevant concept for the historical moment that we are living in, specifically in Latin America. There are wounds, there have been mistakes, and we have to heal in some way and use the strength and capacity for resilience that we have as Latin Americans to take steps forward and, as happens in the film, create a new world using the best of what we have to offer, working as a team. In the world of animation, a great collective of incredible artists who share a mission and who have a responsibility to make history with the learning and memories of each of our countries and our own lives.

How long was production, and was this something that you had to focus on entirely or something you did in the background while working on other projects?

Production lasted around eight months. We had to do it between other projects to be able to finance it with studio funds. It was hard work, but just like in the universe of these magical beings called Bambas, we had to work as a team, be patient, be strong, and collaborate to reach the final result. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful projects that Lucy Animation Studio has made in its history since it was a project based on trust, collaboration, and the infinite love that we all have for animation.

What else are you working on at Lucy?

In addition to this beautiful project, we have been working on five IDs for Adult Swim throughout the year. Two of them have already been released: one for Genndy Tartakovsky’s Unicorn Warriors and another that we will air soon on the network, which is a tribute to Lucy, the kitten that owns our studio. The third has its own story and universe, and the other two are surprises that will be revealed in the coming months and that we are very excited about. Additionally, we are doing animation, character design, and layout services for a Marvel series that we can’t talk about yet.

For original work we are in the development stage on a feature film called Halloween Triqui Triqui, we are in production on a short film called Mitomorfosis, and in development on another short called Crunchy Human. Beyond our production work, we have been involved for almost a year in working with animation schools for Latin American students which is 100% in Spanish, which also has us very excited. Sharing our experience and knowledge has become one of the key parts and the DNA of our studio, as well as addressing a historical lack of Spanish-language animation training throughout Latin America and abroad. And we’ve got many more things in the pipeline that I still can’t talk about… For now, we are infinitely grateful to Pixelatl for this beautiful opportunity and happy to tell our stories and raise our voices before the world in media like these.

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