Pixlatl, one of the foremost animation festivals in Latin America, will return to its roots of family animated entertainment, as well as discussing the future of the artform at next year’s edition, according to CEO Jose Iñesta.

The Mexican festival will run Sept. 3-7, 2019 under the banner Pixelatl: Raíces y Mañana. (Roots and Tomorrow)

According to Iñesta, Pixelatl is the kind of event that the burgeoning Mexican animation industry was missing. In Mexico, in total, there are nearly 300 film festivals, but none dedicated entirely to the industry, art, and craft of animation. So, for the past eight years, Iñesta and his team have worked to create links between domestic animators and the international community, and grow the untapped resources available in Mexico.

In addition to making Mexican animation, video games and comics more relevant internationally, it is their goal to developing a creative community in their own country. He describes Pixelatl as “an intimate event where people get to know each other and are willing to share projects, ideas, and try to develop, together, a brighter future.”

When asked what he thinks their greatest success has been so far, his answer is always the same. The thing that he and those who work with him are most proud of, are the lifetime bonds and friendships that are formed during their annual get-together.

Another point of pride was the implementation this year of the Girl Power: Pitch Me the Future award, presented in partnership with Cartoon Network. The inaugural winner was  “Forgotten Forest” from Madelein Treviño. One of 289 projects pitched from throughout Latin America, it’s the tale of Marty, an explorer looking for her grandmother, guided by a spirit who loves jazz.

According to Iñesta, “What I see is a community that is willing to help each other and are reaching to the world for help in order to create content that can better our future.”

Variety talked with Iñesta at Ventana Sur Animation!, where he gave an early look at what to expect from next year’s festival, and his ambitious long-term goals for the event, and the animation industry.

How is next year’s program shaping up?

Our call for entries just opened and we are asking animators around the world to send us their shorts that talk about this year’s theme: The power of storytelling to build a better tomorrow.

You have rightly criticized the amount of age-inappropriate content that kids today are exposed to in Mexico. How do you think we can get more age-appropriate content in front of Mexican kid’s eyes?

None of the major national networks – Televisa, TV Azteca, Grupo Imagen, Canal 22, or Canal Once – have allocated budgets for children’s programming. They normally produce soap operas or drug dealer series. They forget that children watch their channels, and they have failed to give them appropriate content. The international networks like Cartoon Network, Discovery Kids, Netflix and Amazon Studios have started to produce shows from Mexican creators, and I hope that the major networks realize the importance and the business opportunity that they are giving away by not producing content for children.

What role can a festival such as Pixelatl play in working towards those goals of more kid-friendly content? In what ways do you promote content that has a positive message?

We have worked with government authorities, local channels, and international channels to point out that there is huge market for children’s content that is untapped. The way I see it, children represent our future and we should be developing valuable content that teaches them values, learning to express and process emotions, to protect the environment, to embrace diversity etc., important topics that we need the future generations to learn and adopt from early stages of development.

Can you talk a bit about the future of the festival? As animation continues to boom, especially in Mexico, how do you see the festival changing going forward?

It’s important to mention that Pixelatl is a festival about content, not only animation. We don’t know where the next good story is going to come from. That’s the reason why we foster creation with several calls for videogames, comics, TV series, features; and some dedicated specifically for female creators. We want to show that it is only through collaboration that we can bring to life properties which relate better to other human beings. We need new voices and new content that can be more relatable to new audiences.

Is there anything new or different about next year’s edition that you can, or would like to talk about?

Year after year the market part of the festival is getting bigger. Every year more networks, studios, and country delegations participate in the event, and the huge diversity of channels, broadcasters, and producers is what make the festival a success. It has become a place that nourishes content that is later produced and transmitted. We have set the bar high in order to give creators from other countries a voice that the networks are willing to listen to, and we want to continue to do that.