“Mandinga,” “The Metamorph” and “Ainbo” figure among 13 projects in a new section bowing this year at Buenos Aires’ Ventana Sur market: “Animation!”
Showcasing seven features and six TV series, all of which will be pitched at Buenos Aires, Animation! marks a significant and symbolic departure for Ventana Sur as it broadens its gamut to take in TV and target potential growth sectors, in artists and commercial terms, in Latin America’s content business.
Ventana Sur was launched by Argentina’s Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales (INCAA) and the Cannes Film Market and Festival in 2009 as a Latin American film market. Animation! launches in partnership with Annecy’s Intl. Animation Film Market (MIFA), the biggest film-tv animation mart in the world, giving Ventana Sur a second alliance with a top-of-its-global-class partner based out of France.
“Ventana Sur may be an ideal tool for helping animation production growth in Latin America, showing its sound development,” Ventana Sur co-director Bernardo Bergeret told Variety, commenting that Animation! is a “new goal which adds to the numerous activities of our event that has already incorporated fantastic cinema,” – in a reference to Ventana Sur’s Blood Window.
“The Metamorph” will be the third feature of Diego Ayala (“Cut Down Kite”), a screenwriter on Nicolás López’s Chilean 2016 smash-hit “No Filter.” Made in 2D/3D, “Metamorph” turns on two little aliens living on the moon in 1969. Boyager Pictures and Sulfúrica, both from Santiago de Chile, produce.
Weighing in with the biggest budget, $7 million, of any project in Animation! “Ainbo,” a 3D project, is directed by José Zelada and produced by Lima’s Tunche Films. It follows Ainbo, an indigenous girl in the Amazon who learns how her world is being destroyed by other human beings she didn’t even know existed. Mythological creatures – a giant turtle, for instance – help her battle against illegal mining.
A 26-part, one-minute-per-episode series, “Mandinga” will be directed by Becho Lo Bianco, co-founder of Buenos Aires’ Can Can Club alongside Mariano Bergara. “Mandinga” presents the misadventures of a little devil, a big demon wannabe, who makes flailing attempts at turning other people’s lives into nightmares.
In its first edition, Animation! received 116 submissions. Argentina notched up the highest number with 30 series and 16 features, followed by Colombia (10 series and 13 features), Chile (nine series and five features), and Brazil (five series and six features).
Many Animation! titles point to animators in Latin America mining indigenous elements – rites, mythological characters, lush landscapes – to create animation which highlights key issues – ecology, diversity – in a region where animation is seen as part of a natural culture while setting their works apart in industrial terms from Hollywood blockbusters.
Beyond “Ainbo, Peru’s Apus-produced “Imilla,” a feature co-directed by Gabriel Bonilla and Erick Chagua, depicts a thriving village, Yakullaqta, protected by the god of the snowy mountain Auqi Picchu; Víctor Mayorga’s feature debut “The Mark of the Jaguar,” produced by Mexico’s Ocelotl Company, recreates a tribe’s fire rites; “Chakay, the Master of the Two Worlds,” from Ecuador’s Alicia Studio and directed by Daniel Esteban Jácome, is a series about a geek 12-year-old whose routine life changes when his cell-phone receives an Incan life-force allowing him to travel through alternative dimensions.
Both from Argentina, Joan Manuel Millán’s “Len and the Whales’ Song,” set up at Luty and Vista Sur, turns on a young girl dreaming of chanting like whales; the debut of Pedro Blumembaum, an animation director on “The Hairy Tooth Fairy,” series “Kusi Qolla, the Auka Warrior,” centres around a 10-year-old girl who belonging to a lineage of ancient warriors. Vlexus produces. Federico Moreno Breser’s “Nina,” which is produced by Brazil’s Carmela Conteúdos, narrates the adventures of children trying to recuperate the songs once sung in their village.
Exploring other themes, Julio Pot’s “Sun in the City,” set up at Chile’s Miniestudio, follows Sol, who suffers from agoraphobia, and Noé, her neighbor who tries to help her but falls in love with her.
Series rounding up the lineup: Argentine Crudo Films’ “The Sun (Previously),” the story of a night spent by three friends just prior to the Apocalypse. This short format series is directed by Ayar Blasco, an animation director on “Mercano the Martian” which won a Special Jury Prize at Annecy in 2002.
Florencia Kohan and Sabrina Pace’s “Ioguis,” an Argentine seven-minute seg series, demonstrates the virtues of yoga to kids. Javier Beltramino produces.
Also making the cut: “My (Ex) Imaginary BFF,” produced by Chile’s Lunes Cinetv and directed by José Ignacio Navarro. The series turns on a 11-year-old kid showing signs of puberty and who wants to be treated as an adult.
The Animation! jury is made up of Géraldine Baché and Véronique Encrenaz, projects managers at MIFA, and France’s Natalie Altmann, CEO of Media Valley and formerly head of children’s programs at France’s M6-Metropole Television. Two winners will be chosen – one for each format. The winners will be invited to attend the 2017 MIFA Pitching Sessions this coming June.
Animation also has a training initiative. Heather Kenyon, head of project development on “Gnomeo & Juliet,” will conduct two work sessions with representatives of the selected projects. All projects submitted but not selected will also receive advice from an animation consultant.
Select Latin America’s animated features are breaking out to standout box office results. Mexican title “Un gallo con muchos huevos” grossed $9.1 million in the U.S. for Pantelion Films and $10.0 million for Televisa’s Videocine in Mexico. Alberto Rodriguez’s Mexican feature “La leyenda del chupacabras” near bested ‘Ouija: “Origin of Evil” in its opening weekend on Oct. 21. Argentina’s new Promotion Plan for Cinema offers development and production support for animation.
“The challenge is now how companies which are about to complete a first project set up a permanent structure to sustain a slate of productions, and how they strengthen a still-developing sector,” Animation! co-ordinator Silvina Cornillon told Variety.
She added: “That’s the big question: What’s the next step in order to make that wheel turn?”
VENTANA SUR ANIMATION! PROJECTS
“Len and the Whales’ Song,” (Colombia, Argentina)
“Nina,” (Brazil, Argentina)
“Sun in the City,” (Chile)
“Ainbo,” (Peru, Argentina)
“The Mark of the Jaguar,” (Mexico)
“The Sun (Previously),” (Argentina)
“Chakay, the Master of the two Worlds,” (Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Bolivia)
“My (Ex) Imaginary BFF,” (Chile)
“Kusi Qolla, the Auka Warrior,” (Argentina)