Jirafa Sets Co-Prod Partners ‘Voice-Over,’ ‘Dome’

Chilean producer expands international footprint

SAN SEBASTIAN – Bruno Bettati’s Valdivia-based Jirafa Films, a driving force behind the surge of new Chilean films, has tapped new production partners in Canada and France for, respectively, “Voice-Over,” the awaited third feature from Cristian Jimenez’s (“Bonsai”) and “Dome,” from Paris-based Chilean Luis Briseno, the latest addition to Latin America’s fast ramping up in animation scene.

Jirafa already co-produced “Bonsai” with France’s Rouge Intl. Laurent Danielou’s Paris-based Rezo handled its international sales.

Both moves consolidate Jirafa’s international co-production footprint. The next step will be a fully-fledged disembarking in English-language production, Bettati said at San Sebastian Festival, where he is serving as the president of its Horizontes Latinos jury.

Jirafa’s “The Future,” helmed by Alicia Scherson and made half in English, world premiered at the Sundance Festival, segueing to Rotterdam; Marcela Said’s “The Summer of Flying Fish” made its debut at this year’s Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight. It was also selected for Toronto.

Tapping Nicolas Comeau’s Canada-based 1976 Productions as a co-production partner, Jirafa has now framed “Voice-Over” as a three-way co-production between Chile (Jirafa), Canada (1976) and France (Rouge Intl., once more). Rezo has again taken international sales rights.

Skedded to roll from Janaury – Chile’s summer – in Valdivia, and a dramedic dissection of a dysfunctional family’s decline, “Voice-Over” turns on Sofia who, post-separation, decides to retreat from the world. But her family has other plans.

“For a co-production, you need committed people, in Cristian Jimenez’s case, people who enjoy his humor and will fight for his style,” Bettati said.

“’Bonsai’s sales suggest Cristian Jimenez’s dry humor works well in Canada, as well as the U.K., Canada and France and, curiously , the Caribbean,” he added.

The tripartite co-production also reflects on Jimenez’s maturing career, and the joint desire of producer and director to up the ante.

Bettati commented: “When you have a first-time director, there’s lots of soft funding available. When the director has made three-or-four films, it’s not that you can’t go to soft funding sources, it’s that we have higher ambitions, and those ambitions include selling the film.”

Rolling off a director’s past sales and box office, each co-producer will also attempt to pre-sell the film in his own territory, racking up a clutch of pre-sales which, underscoring the film’s export potential, stand the partners in good stead when they apply for national soft-funding.

A rotoscoped toon pic (think Richard Linklater’s “Waking Life”), “Dome” will shoot in Chile’s northern desert, making use of its post-Apocalyptic landscape.

Once more emphasizing its market ambitions, it will be shot in English and French, not Spanish, Bettati said.

In Briseno’s animated/live action feature, people are forced to live in a dome as animated figures. The revelation of their entrapment only comes when they escape.

“Briseno, who has lived in Paris for 17 years, has a reputation as an animator, dominating all facets of animation: 2D, 3D, stop-motion, hand-drawn, clay,” Bettati said.

“Once more, we’re pushing him into the international market, seeking to engineer pre-sales,” he added.

Jeremy Rochignaux’s Metronomic Pictures, a Paris-based animation house, will co-produce out of France. Post-production for Europe will be carried out in France.

More partners are joining the project.

Animation has ever more practitioners in Chile, and a market, Bettati argued.

Bill Plympton delivered a master-class in Chile, packing out a 500-seat theater. It was like bringing a rock star, or Steve Jobs!” Bettati recalled.

Three animation films have been made in Chile. Two have been quite successful in audience terms,” Bettati said.

He argued that international response to animation can also be upbeat.

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