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Ventana Sur: ‘City of Pirates,’ ‘Nahuel and the Magical Book’ and ‘Dalia and the Red Book’ Feature at Ventana Sur’s Animation WIP

Industry sidebar opens an optimistic window on upcoming LatAm animation

BARCELONA— Otto Guerra’s “City of Pirates,” Germán Acuña’s “Nahuel and the Magical Book,” and “Dalia and the Red Book,” are among the five work-in-progress features being presented to potential co-producers and buyers at the second edition of Ventana Sur’s Animation! showcase.

These features –along with the eight TV series and eight projects pitching at the Buenos Aires’ mart– can provide some clues about the current Latin American animation landscape.

Recent regional successes have come in the forms of Alex Orrell and Eduardo Schuldt’s “Condorito”–which pulled in $1.9 million in Peru alone, $8 million across the region and will be released in the U.S. next January via Pantelion- Gabriel Osorio’s Oscar winning animated short “Bear Story” (2014) and Gabriel and Rodolfo Riva Palacio Alatriste’s “Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos”(2015) – a Mexican production that has an international box office of $9.1 million.

“A new Latin American animation producer profile is being built. These new producers are working locally to set up new lobbies and new partnerships in their countries and in the region. On the other, they are being proactive at international events, co-production forums and markets,” Animation! coordinator Silvina Cornillon told Variety.

“Dalia and the Red Book,” for instance, is a co-production between two countries with little history of co-production –Argentina (Vista Sur, Felipe Producciones) and Peru (Golem Studio. Directed by German Acuña, “Nahuel and the Magical Book” is a Chile (Punkrobot, Carburadores), Brazil (Red Animation) co-production.

“Financing continues to be the big issue. There is plenty of talent, but it’s necessary to get a strategic and coordinated resource boost in the region to take advantage from this emerging industry,” Acuña told Variety before pointing out the significant advantage of having a common language across the region.

According to a report from the Brazilian Association of Audiovisual Works (APRO) and the Brazilian Agency for Entrepreneurship (SEBRAE), out of 792 Brazilian films released from 2008 to 2015, just 1.4% were animated pics. Now, the country has nearly 30 films in different development stages.

Guerra acknowledged the importance of  Brazil’s federal Fundo Setorial do Audiovisual –included in the general program Brasil de Todas as Telas– as crucial in animation support in a conversation with Variety: “Brazil is going through an upbeat moment, with a lot of productions ongoing. Features, and also a lot of animated TV shows, are being produced. Our studio is currently working on two of them, which is something completely new for us.”

TV projects being pitched this week include Argentina’s “The Adventures of Ugo and Serena the Whale” (El Perro en la Luna, Untref), “Ray Trigger, Space Commander (Banzai Films), “Onion the Steak” (Nuts Media), Mexico’s “My Brother the Monster” (Gasolina Studios), Brazil’s “The Bolecos” (Estúdio Alcalina and Sagui Filmes), Colombia’s “What Would Jesus Do?” (Be Cartoons) and two films from Chile: “Zander” (Plastiestudio) and “Raise the Bar!,” whose producer and director Fernanda Frick is in the race for a best animated short Oscar with “Here’s the Plan.”

Lucas Arechaga, Senior Content Manager at Turner’s Cartoon Network, Boomerang & Tooncast Latin America in Buenos Aires also addressed TV animation, telling Variety “Animation in general is not a content exclusively for children anymore. Many current blockbusters are animated, and TV shows are more sophisticated than ever before,” adding that, “animation is more and more an option for storytelling and building 360º properties. A example of this is “Historietas Assombradas: Para Crianças Malcriadas,” originated in Brazil as a Cartoon Network TV show and now ready for delivery as a movie.”

Completing  Ventana Sur’s Animation! slate are two WIPs from Mexico –”Koati the Movie” and “Here Comes the Grump.”

Produced by Latin America’s most prominent animation house, Anima Studios, and U.K.’s Prime Focus World, “Grump” turns on a young boy who discovers that the tales about balloons, dragons and wizards his grandma used to tell him are true, although not as happy and peaceful as she had indicated. The film is a reboot of DePatie-Freleng ’70s TV series and will be directed by Andrés Couturier (“Top Cat Begins”).

“Koati” is an Upstairs production with Colombian “Modern Family,” star Sofia Vergara voice acting and executive producing. The film follows a small and resolute coati – think a South American raccoon – embarking on an adventure to save his village which is being menaced by a volcano. Director Rodrigo Pérez Castro has worked on many animation blockbusters as story editor, such as “Ferdinand,” and “Rio 2”.

Géraldine Baché, projects head at Annecy International Animated Film Market (MIFA), which is curating this WIP section, said the animation booming is not only expressed in the “artistic originality” of projects, but in the amount of submissions for this year’s Ventana Sur Animation! Showcase, which have increased 50% (174 vs. 116) in the event’s second year.

Baché also perceives a “real awareness in terms of storytelling and seeking the right balance between Latin American traditions, myths, origins… and the need for opening up to the international market by injecting a more universal scope to the stories.”

“Historically there are three big pillars in animation: Disney in the U.S., the European branch –led by France in my opinion— and Japanese anime. I believe the time has come to set up a fourth pillar. Latin American animation has arrived!” Acuña declared enthusiastically.

VENTANA SUR’S ANIMATION! WORK IN PROGRESS, 2017

“City of Pirates,” (Otto Guerra, Brazil)

“Here Comes the Grump,” (Andrés Couturier, Mexico, UK.)

“Dalia and the Red Book,” (David Bisbano, Argentina, Peru)

“Koati the Movie”  (Rodrigo Pérez Castro, Mexico)

“Nahuel and the Magical Book” (Germán Acuña, Chile, Brazil)

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