The inaugural Quirino Awards, pioneering Ibero-American animation prizes, will take place over April 6-7 in Tenerife, one of Spain’s biggest Canary Islands, in an event which also embraces a co-production forum and an animation conference.

The awards, aimed at celebrating the animation talent and industry of the Latin America Spain and Portugal and to build an animation market for its titles will be presented Thursday at Buenos Aires’ Ventana Sur market.

Kudos will be adjudicated to best feature, TV show, short, film school short, visual achievement, animation design, sound and soundtrack, innovative work and commissioned work.

Co-production forum will take place in partnership with state film agencies, TV networks and animation lobbies from the region. It will include panels, pitching sessions and business meetings. A selection of non-Latin American companies will also be invited with a special focus on those based out of Europe and Asia.

The Quirino Awards come into being at a moment of promise for animation in the region.

Animation!, the Ventana Sur toon co-production and sales forum for movies and TV shows, has powered up dramatically in its second edition in Buenos Aires. Some of that growth can be put down to the welling and unprecedented volume of Latin American feature film projects of high production quality sporting a dazzling array of techniques and themes, as was seen at a Animation! WIP session on Wednesday evening at Ventana Sur. Latin American movie animators, as their TV counterparts before them, are also beginning to construct strategic alliances aimed at converting them into often boutique players but with a global industry reach.

Meanwhile, a regional movie, Perú’s “Condorito,” has topped box office charts the fall in Perú and Colombia.

“Although it looks like a boom, it’s the consequence of many years of work, –sometimes battling in very adverse circumstances, that is now beginning to bear fruits,” Jose Luis Farias, a Quirino Awards promoter, told Variety.

Farias added that a key to the production spike has also been “a new generation of animation professionals with a firm determination to build a true industry.”

A Quirino Award to Best Latin American Project will be granted this year at Ventana Sur, allowing its producer or director  o attend the upcoming co-production forum in Tenerife. More than a hundred projects submissions have been received to date.

Targeting teachers, scholars, creators and technicians, the Quirino conference aims to to discuss the consequences of digital advances and underscore the strategic importance of animation plus technology in today’s knowledge society, analyzing the relationship between the new animated technologies and social, training and communication needs and offering an international event

Conference sessions will be devoted to traditional vs. digital animation, new technologies –AR, VR, 360 – commercial animation, transmedia storytelling, education, social activism, videogames, social networks, documentaries, and literature and animation, among other issues.

The Quirino Awards are largely backed by Turismo de Tenerife, a local government department for to promote tourism, in partnership with the Tenerife Film Commission, Festival of Animation, Video Games and Comics of Cuernavaca, Mexico and Spain’s 3D Wire International Animation.

Canary Islands enjoy Spain’s best tax breaks for film and TV – the territory offers a noteworthy 38%-40% tax rebate, though this is capped however, at $4.9 million.

Quirino awards take their name from Argentine filmmaker Quirino Cristiani (1896-1984) who made the first animated feature in history, “The Apostle,” in 1917. Cristiani was also the first director to create animation exclusively using cardboard cut-outs.

Italian-born Cristiani moved to Argentina with his family when he was four years old. A political social satire, “Apostle” presented Argentine president Hipólito Yrigoyen venturing to the Olympus in order to use divine tools such as Jupiter’s rays to fight Buenos Aires’ corruption. This first animated 70-minute feature, shot at 14 frames per second, included around 58,000 drawings. It was lost in a fire.