Chile’s “The Devil’s Vein” and “Lucila” and Mexico’s “Ch’ulel” figure among a 14-title lineup at Animation! Pitching Sessions,
part of Ventana Sur, the Cannes Festival and Marché du Film’s biggest annual event organized beyond its May event on the Riviera – in this case in Buenos Aires hand in hand with Argentina’s INCAA film agency.
Among bigger names, “The Devil’s Vein” is a 2D family-targeting fantasy adventure, from the director, German Acuña, and producer, Sebastián Ruz, of “Nahuel and the Magic Book,” a 2020 Annecy standout.
“Lucila” marks the first animation title of María Elena Wood, the reputed Chilean co-producer of Platino Award winning mini-series “News of a Kidnapping.”
Also brought onto the market for the first time at Animation! “Ch’ulel” is the latest from Mexico’s Míguel Angel Uriegas at Fotosíntesis Media (“A Costume for Nicolás”) a pioneer in cause-driven entertainment in Mexico.
Buzz projects at Animation! take in the anticipated “The Devil’s Vein,” as well as Argentina’s “Electro Andes,” an early essay at South American anime; “Astropackers” from Colombia, whose pilot played Cartoon Network, and Brazil’s “Tales of Mungara,” produced by Renata Roberta Azevedo, behind high-profile live action fest plays by Marcelo Gomes and Hilton Lacerda.
Nine of the 14 projects are set in fantasy lands inspired by Indigenous myth as Latin American animation explores ever more the region’s distinctive cultural identity. Half of these titles feature protagonists’ quests for identity.
“One significant trend is the growing emphasis on diverse narratives, particularly those rooted in local culture and folklore. I think this trend reflects the desire to showcase the rich cultural tapestry of Latin America and demonstrates the commitment to expanding the global footprint of Latin American animation,” said Animation Manager Silvina Cornillón.
“Also, we’ve seen an increasing use of hybrid animation techniques that blend traditional and digital methods, allowing for unique visual storytelling,” she added.
“Astropackers,” mixes 2D characters and 3D backgrounds; self-branded ethno cyberpunk, “Electro Andes” will mash 2D, stop motion, and mixed media.
Submissions this year came in at 227, an all-time record at an event which has built year after year. The lineup unveil comes just 10 days after an Ampere Analysis at MipJunior suggested that global orders for kids TV were down 48% for 2023, through August, compared to an overall figure of a 35% decrease for the first eight months of the year. U.S. pay TV channels and SVOD players drove that decline.
“Everything that has been happening recently in the U.S., has an impact in our region, including the merger of main networks that produce content for kids,” said Cornillón.
“At the same time, it’s important to note that Latin American content creators continue to adapt and innovate, producing compelling content that resonates with both regional and global audiences. In this sense, the fact that production costs may be more competitive can provide them with an advantage in times of downsizing.”
Feature Film Projects
“Ch’ulel,” (Fotosíntesis Media, Mexico)
A potential Fotosíntesis’ follow-up to “My Friend the Sun,” an instructive 2D feature for 6-8s, “Ch’ulel” turns on little Sakbé, a Tzeltal girl, lives with her grandmother, Wanuch, in the deep Chiapas Highlands, and hopes one day to be a healer like her grandmother. When villagers fall ill, she sets out on an adventure to uncover the secrets of her young Tzeltal soul, her ch’ulel.
“Devil’s Vein,” (“La Veta del Diablo,” Formidable Studio, Chile)
“A sort of fantasy Latin American Western,” director Acuña has told Variety, his sophomore outing being set at the height of the 1920’s sodium nitrate mining boom in Chile’s Atacama Desert where Mercedes, 16, steals a mysterious piece of gold, to negotiate the life of her brother, in trouble with the mineral’s true owner: the Devil under the desert.
“Francisca and the Land of Dreams,” (“Francisca y el Sueño de la Tierra,” Cinnamon Studio, Peru)
Francisca is deep into traditional dances uniting man’s world and the earth’s spirit, elders say. But the Shadow threatens to destroy this pact with a terrible draught. Inspired by traditions of northern Peru, first feature helmer Merce Castellanos directs; best known as CEO of Lima-based Apus (“La Orquestita,” “Papelucho”), Gabriel Bonilla produces.
“Lucila,” (Maria Wood Produccionhes, Pajaro, Chile)
A novelty, and an eye-catching one at that: A kids & family movie about a ghost girl, wandering through a small village in the desert, determined to find her identity, discovers the talents that allow her to embody her destiny: To become great Latin American poet Gabriela Mistral. Created and produced by María Elena Wood and also the first toon feature for Bernardita Ojeda, a director on milestone Chilean toon series such as “Petit,” an International Emmy-nominated title and Quirino Awards winner.
“If I Die,” (“Se Eu Morrer,” Apto122, Brazil; Esther Vital, Spain)
A standout in its political import and artistic ambition to be shot in stop motion targeting 16+s. It recounts the real-life case of Inés, a opponent of the Brazilian dictatorship abducted and tortured in 1971 for 96 days in the so-called “The House of Death,” outside Rio, being the only captive to get out alive and tell her tale. Vital’s follow-up to “Searching Heleny,” which shot tapestries, harking pack to Chile’s arpilleras, tapestries recording human rights abuse under Augusto Pinochet.
“Seed,” (“Seed Brotecin,” Planta Alta, Argentina)
A kids and family feature, about Seed, a small sprout that germinates unexpectedly and becomes obsessed with discovering what type of plant he is. To do so, he will have to leave his pot and reach the heart of the rainforest in Misiones. Directors are Jonathan Barg and Andrés Sehinkman, behind natural history series, linking with toon helmers Fernando Maldonado y Federico Carlini.
“Walala,” (Birdo, Cerberos Filmes, Brazil)
A 2D digital sci-fi movie, set in a future where Walala, one of three members of the last Indigenous nation, is a star of a strange game that takes place inside the last forest, from which she has never ventured. From Cerberos’ Perseu Azul, a critical entertainment company, and Birdo’s Luciana Eguti, which has produced shows for Netflix, HBO Max, Disney, Paramount and the BBC.
“Astropackers,” (Caballo Loco Studio, Colombia)
Directed by Luisa Fernanda Velásquez and Felipe Rodriguez, “Astropackers” scored a pilot episode bow on Cartoon Network in 2022 and is now angling for co-production partners for a full season. A fantasy comedy for 8-12s, it turns on Norman, a stuck-in-a-rut shape-shifting character who hits the road on a backpacking trip through a galaxy of quirky creatures.
“Bolla,” (Los Calladitos, Casiopea Estudios, Mexico)
The toon series debut of Calladitos, Ariadna Galaz and Jorge Peralta, Mexican mural painters of characters based on legends, myths or real characters representing communities. A 12-part digital 2D fantasy fable drawn in rich natural tones, “Bolla” was Pixelatl’s Animation! Special Prize winner in September. As Seed Town’s light is about to expire, three unlikely heroes – the kittenish Put, diminutive little grandfather, and wolf girl Carmín – set off to find Bolla, who can grow the earth’s energy.
“Electro Andes,” (Bellolandia, Argentina)
Described bracingly as an anthology blending Andean myths with cyberpunk, five directing teams each giving a unique spin to what Latin American anime means. Mixing 2D animation, stop motion and mixed media, targeting YA viewers, it tuns on mining in the Arcadia Iruyana valley uncovers an energy-rich mineral sealing ancient evil. Damián Fernández Gómez and Ignacio Malter, behind a “Pibes Jordan” trailer and “Funky Hunters” teaser, direct and produce.
“Harbor,” (“Cais,” Mono Animation, Brazil)
2D, aiming at 5+ demos, the latest from Brazil’s Bruno Bask, animation director on “Tropa de Trapo” and “Little Kites,” also from Mono and an Annecy-Mifa Prize winner at 2019’s Animation! Billed as “an enchanting and poetic new series that follows the journey of Ben and Mica as they explore friendship, and appreciate the significance of the maternal bond, all before stepping into the world.”
“Knightmares,” (Demente Studio, Mexico)
Liz, 13, summons an ancient monster to banish her fears, unleashing the Night Walker, that gets rid of fears by turning them into monsters. A horror comedy for 8-12s, directed by award-winning publicist and radio novela scribe. Warners and Marvel storyboard artist Alberto Arvizu produces.
“Love Quest,” (Casa Bicicleta Audiovisual, Peru)
Seen at Annecy’s 2019 MIFA market, Dee, a demon, Vee, a cloud-koala princess, and Sy, a pandicorn, feature in a fish-out-of-water journey as they look for “love.” A 2D digital family comedy directed and produced respectively by Grace Cárdenas Cano and Rebeca Venegas Gonzales, co-founders of Casa Bicicleta in 2015.
“Tales of Mungará,” (Carnaval Filmes, Brazil)
Each story framing a poetic fable and a small journey of self-knowledge, says the synopsis, to shoot in 2D digital, set in a mysterious forest and directed by actor-casting director Renata Roberta Azevedo who voiced Fada Suellen in Netflix Original “Acorda Carlo,” and Nara Aragão, a well-known live action producer of Marcelo Gomes (“Paloma”) and Hilton Lacerda (“Tattoo”).