Producers of “Las Acacias,” a Cannes’ Camera d’Or winner for best first feature, Juan Pablo Miller’s Tarea Fina and Ariel Rotter’s Aire Cine are now teaming on “Forest Girl” (“Niña Bosque”), their first animated feature production.
Co-written by Rotter, a distinguished writer-director in his own right whose first movie, 2007’s “The Other,” won a Berlin Festival Grand Jury Prize, “Forest Girl” also marks the debut feature of its Taiwan-born and Buenos Aires-based director Aili Chen, a co-founder with Rotter of Aire Cine.
A coming-of age fantasy adventure targeting up-scale family audiences, art house devotees, festivals and platforms, “Forest Girl” is set to be unveiled at Animation! Pitching Sessions, organized by Ventana Sur, the biggest film market in Latin America, and the Annecy Animation Festival’s MIFA market.
Conceived by Chen, who co-writes with Rotter, “Forest Girl” turns on a little girl who awakes alone in a forest land of striking wild beauty.
Intent on getting back to her family, she begins a journey aided by strange forest creatures, in which she comes to realize the power of her emotions and that they represent her true home.
“‘Forest Girl’ presents a child’s journey of self-discovery, in which emotions prove to be a valuable treasure to both understand and cope with life,” said Chen in a director’s statement.
The film’s informing sentiment draws on Chen’s own childhood, Rotter added. This saw her being uprooted from her native Tapei, where she lived in the fields with her grandmother, and moved to strange cities – first Paraguay’s Asunción and then Buenos Aires, where she didn’t speak a word of the language. When Chen was 16, her parents returned to Taiwan, leaving her to tend for her younger brother.
A 2D color animation film drawn with pencil and touches of watercolor animated in soft-flowing motions, “Forest Girl” builds on the back and white short of the same name that Chen directed in 2011.
“I intend to portray certain images from nature in special detail to bring forth a sense of an intent, meticulous viewpoint (e.g. leaves in the wind, water sparkles, etc.) that reveals magical, transcendent moments,” Chen said.
That was already seen in the short in, for example, in the weight of the wind rocking the high branches of trees and billowing leaves towards the little girl.
A visual artist who has worked as an art director on 17 features, including Rotter’s “Incident Light” which swept the Argentine Academy Awards in 2016, winning best film, director and art director, Chen has directed three short animation films: “Forest Girl,” “The Magic Hour” and “An Unnamed Animation.”
Tarea Fina productions have won best film at the 2015 Berlin Festival’s Generation KPlus (“Natural Sciences,” Matias Luchessi); the TCM Youth Award at the 2019 San Sebastian Festival (Ana Garcia Blaya’s “The Good Intentions”); and best film at the 2019 Havana Film Festival (Paula Hernandez’s “The Sleepwalkers”).
A highly select Buenos Aires production house, “working on a small scale to ensure quality and care,” said Rotter, Aire Cine has produced Rotter’s three features, Chen’s three shorts and the two features released to date from Pablo Giorgelli, Cannes Festival 2011 winner “Las Acacias” and 2017’s “Invisible, “ which was selected for 2017’s Venice Film Festival Horizons section.