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The Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival will be part of Amigos de la Liga (Friends of the League), a new partnership initiative set up by La Liga, the animation alliance created to promote the Ibero-American animation sector worldwide, comprising Spain’s Quirino Awards, Argentina’s Animation! and Mexico’s Pixelatl Festival.

The announcement was made at a panel which took place Dec. 4 at Ventana Sur’s Animation! under the title La Liga Presents: Ibero-American Animation Around The World.” Annecy Festival was already a strategic partner of Ventana Sur, the French festival participating in the selection of pitched Animation! projects.

As part of the new deal, Focus Animation!— Annecy’s pitching sessions linked to Ventana Sur’s Animation!— will be renamed as La Liga in Focus. Other new developments are under consideration, Cornillon revealed told Variety.

Conceived with the aim of analyzing the Ibero-American animation presence at international events and the global expansion of the sector, the panel shed light on the sector’s strengths and challenges.

Some of the conclusions drawn by participants and at the round table were that Latin American animation production is clearly increasing in quality, industry competitiveness and presence at international festivals. The sector needs, however, to strengthen a common legal framework of co-operation in the region. Animation is a complex sector that requires a huge co-operative effort and Ibero-America is a good location for this, due to the language, among other reasons.

Panelists at the event were Quirino Awards promoter José Luis Farias, Mexico’s Pixelatl director José Iñesta, Animation! co-ordinator Silvina Cornillon and Santiago de Chile’s MAI Chilemonos artistic director Erwin Gómez Viñales. The panel was moderated by animation expert and journalist Gerardo Michelin at Latam Cinema.

INTERNATIONAL PRESENCE

Five countries stand out in terms of the number of submitted animated works to Annecy during the last yeas: Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia and Chile.

According to figures provided by MIFA, Annecy’s market, 11 Latin American titles have been awarded at Annecy since 2009–taking in features, shorts, TV and VR. It’s remarkable that in the last three years, six works (55% out of 11) received kudos in Annecy-

Annecy submissions from Latin America represent 6% of the world total over the three last years- 548 works out of a total of 9,130. In terms of projects, selected pitches from Latin America stand as 11% of the total. In 2019, four pitched projects were Latin American, out of a total of 37.

“The number of projects and their quality are growing every year. This is also true in Ventana Sur selection,” Annecy MIFA head Véronique Encrenaz told Variety.

She added: “When we were working alongside Silvina, we began to discover projects of high visual quality and originality, with their own aesthetics, infrequent in other countries. There’s also a new kind of story, more contemporary or futuristic, less legends.”

Encrenaz also underlined the importance of screenplays. “Latin American animators should probably stick to strengthening writing and storyboarding if they want to excel at internatianal events.”

“There are two main elements,” Iñesta . A first is the growing number and size of studios in Latin America, which allows production muscle to create original content, co-produce, or provide services. The second is the vastness of the market in Latin America.

According to the Quirino Awards-backed White Paper, including Latin America, Spain and Portugal, the 23-countries region includes 867 animation production companies, 261 animation training centers, 26 animation associations and 92 animation events.

PAN-REGIONAL SUPPORT

This year Ibermedia, the pan-regional audiovisual fund, allocated 25% of its development incentives to animation. In dollar terms, it’s an increase of 649% compared with 2018 figures– from $22,000 to $142,854.  Aggregating animation development and co-productions aids, that total rises to $342,854.

Ibermedia co-production-distribution co-ordinator Victor Sánchez told Variety that change in the Latin American animation industry is a reality. In addition to previous figures, animation projects have been valued higher by analysts than the average total of projects: 69.87 against 65.41 points in the case of development, and 71.87 against 65.86 in the case of co-production, in both cases out of a total of 100, Sánchez added.

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La Liga

LANGUAGE, AUDIENCES

Iñesta emphasized that Latino audiences are a natural, avid consumer of content and that producing close to the market helps to build audiences and to professionalize the industry, which is still very young in Latin America.

Farias pointed out: “The international audience is largely Latino— if we count all Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries it’s a good piece of the cake, without forgetting the U.S. Latinx community, whose new generations are increasingly seeking to reaffirm their origins by consuming products closer to their culture and customs.”

BALANCE LOCAL UNIVERSAL CONTENT

Iñesta cited a comment made by Paramount Animation EVP Sandra Rabins –awarded at Pixelatl this year: “I care about local stories, Latin stories that we don’t know but we want to know in the U.S. and the world.

Cornillon emphasized that the identity of Latin American production lies in the type of stories and visual worlds offered by the projects: “A good balance between the indigenous and universal appeal; highly competitive production costs. The capacity of professionals has grown significantly in recent years. New generations of professionals are bolder and more ambitious in creating and live more globally connected,” she told Variety.

A COMMON LEGAL FRAME

The challenges the region faces are the “lack of fiscal incentives that would allow large productions to stay in the region. Although some countries already have them. We also need different support mechanisms in different countries to be aligned, so that the Latin American studios can co-produce together,” Iñesta said.

“Latin American animation is like a family whose members are spread out over many countries, who are rarely able to meet, but are nevertheless closely connected. Hence the importance of the animation festivals held in the region,” said Michelin, adding that the obvious challenges now are the political issues in the region. There’s also an urgent need for a common legal frame in accordance with paradigm change in a global industry.

On Dec 6, La Liga will announce a project among this year’s Animation! pitched projects to be awarded with a prize consisting of an invitation to attend Tenerife’s Quirino Awards and Cuernavaca’s Pixelatl. Last year the first La Liga winner was Alfredo Soderguit and Alejo Schettini’s “Two Little Birds,” a co-production between Uruguay’s Palermo, Buenos Aires’ Can Can and Paris-based Autour de Minuit. Comedy series “Two Little Birds” is currently in an advanced production.

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Can Can Club