Juan Pablo Zaramella’s “Coda,” Miguel Angel Uriegas’ “Beast,” Wesley Rodrigues’ “The Bird Kingdom,” Javier Lourenço and Álvaro Ortega Bianchi’s “John & Lorenzo,” and João Castro’s “My Dad Is a Pirate” feature in this year’s lineup of seven features and eight TV series projects that will participate at Animation!, the cartoon pitching showcase at Buenos Aires’ Ventana Sur market.

The 15 projects will pitch over Dec. 4-5 at the sidebar’s fourth edition.

Participating projects were selected in partnership with Annecy’s Intl. Animation Film Market (MIFA), the world’s highest-profile film and tv animation trade fair. Four of the Animation! projects will be chosen by an international jury to be showcased at MIFA next year.

Through his own studio, Argentine stop-motion master Juan Pablo Zaramella is teaming up with Chilean producer-director Álvaro Ceppi who will take on production responsabilities on Zaramella’s sci-fi family fable “Coda,” which follows Nina— a “rat-girl” living with her species in an underground village suffering under severe tyranny.

“Coda” marks Zaramella’s feature debut, having been Oscar-shortlisted in 2011 for his short “Luminaris,” which won the Fipresci Prize and Audience Award at Annecy. Santiago de Chile-based Zumbástico Studios (TV series hit “Paper Port”) co-produces. “Coda” boasts Animation!’s highest production budget, estimated at $8 million.

Brazilian animator-illustrator Wesley Rodrigues (“Viagem na Chuva”) will direct “The Bird Kingdom,” a 2D YA fantasy in which the Bird King leads a group of men who can transform into birds of prey. When the king’s brother kills him to seize the throne, the kingdom is plunged into a sea of violence. Rio de Janeiro-based Lupa Filmes produces with Amoria Studio. The film is inspired by William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and is set in a fictional region in North-East Brazil.

Structured as a co-production between México’s Fotosíntesis Media, Brazil’s Levante Films and Denmark’s Zentropa, “Beast” is a 2D fantasy adventure feature offers a metaphor for Mexico’s migration traumas. The project is backed by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

Fotosíntesis is a joint initiative of Mexico’s Mantarraya Group and writer-director Miguel Ángel Uriegas, who will direct. The feature will be the company’s third out of Mexico after “The Angel in the Clock” and “A Costume for Nicolas.”

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Fotosíntesis Media

Also included in the feature pitching sessions of Animation! are Simón Acosta’s 3D family adventure film “Mie” (Colombia’s Plot Studio), Tomás Pichardo Espaillat’s hybrid drama “Olivia and the Clouds” (Dominican Republic’s Guasábara Cine), Micaela Gabot’s  2D fantasy drama “Shenkü” (Argentina’s Kora Team), and Camila Alvarez Carrasco’s 2D fantasy adventure “A History From the South,” produced by Chile’s Pilar Smoje.

214 projects were submitted to Animation!, 61 features and 153 TV series, the highest figures in its four editions. A work in progress sidebar will be announced soon.

Argentina participating in four productions, two in co-production. Brazil will present three productions, one in co-production. Chile and Mexico offer two productions and one co-production a piece, Colombia two projects, the Dominican Republic. Peru and Denmark each figure as co-production partners.

“Since Animation! kicked off, our aim has been to lend larger visibility to the diversity of Latin American animation. New talent is emerging alongside well-known directors and established companies,” Animation! coordinator Silvina Cornillon told Variety.

She added that comparing last year’s stats, there is also a bigger presence of female directors, which are responsible for 30% of TV series, up from 12% in 2018.

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Lupa Filmes

Of TV series projects, “John & Lorenzo” is a 2D comedic sci-fi title set on a turbulent planet, Mangrelia, inhabited by a human-dog race, Mangrels. Buenos Aires’ Navajo Films-produces. According to the creators, the project’s surreal humor is inspired by “Rick & Morty.”

The 22-minute, 13-episode series is directed by advertising and animation director Javier Lourenço, whose short, “The Blindness of the Woods” was Sundance-selected, and Álvaro Ortega Bianchi.

A 2D digital cut-out comedy, Brazilian kids’ series “My Dad is a Pirate” follows three siblings who must deal with the eccentric habits of their father, a hardened old pirate accustomed to tough sea life. An 11-minute, 26 episodes series, “Dad” is created by producer César Barbosa and director João Castro, at Rio de Janeiro-based Kaplow Studio.

A 2D/3D edutainment adventure, “The Little Kites” turns on a group of kites that have just reached the sky, and seek to learn about their environment, just like children explore the world on Earth.

Directed by Bruno Bask, the show is set up at São Paulo-based Mono Animation.

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Navajo Films

The Animation! TV series slate also includes María José Campos’ “Chicho & Darz,” produced by Peru’s MJ Campos and Argentina’s El Acuerdo Producciones, and Catalina Matamoros’ “Jungle Comedy” (Colombia’s Extranjero Films).

Also in the mix is Andrea Mondragón’s “The Upper Flat” (Mexico’s Casiopea), Bernardita Ojeda’s “Firsts” (Chile’s Typpo Creative Lab, Pájaro), and Mirelle Ortega’s “The Human Adventures of Bay and Dot” (México).

The average feature budget for Animation! is $2.0 million  and $1.3 million for series, the highest-end show weighing in at $4.2 million.

Many stories underscore a paradigm change in contemporary society, by questioning patriarcy,  Cornillon told Variety. Also notable is the impact local institutions and events are having on project development. Many studios resubmit their projects,” she said. “It’s remarkable how much they improve after receiving  a financial boost for development.”

Ventana Sur runs Dec. 2-6 in Buenos Aires.

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Kaplow Studio