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Ventana Sur’s Animation! Highlights Women, Edgier Adult Animation (EXCLUSIVE)

The Language of the Birds
Courtesy of Ventana Sur

Fernanda Frick’s “IRL Squad,” the Cinema Management Group-sold “Kayara” and Brazil’s “Bring on the Revolution!” are three of the 16 film and TV animation projects at Animation!, one of the industry highlights at the upcoming Ventana Sur, Latin America’s biggest film market.

Running Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, and available on Ventana Sur online, Animation!’s pitches, organized with the Annecy Animation Festival’s MIFA market, play off a building animation scene in Latin America. Animation!’s pitches received 241 submissions this year, an all-time record.

The projects look set as ever to frame some of the strongest movie market titles at Ventana Sur: A exceptional big animated feature production from Latin America, backed by a reputable sales agent, can now spark seven-figure dollar pre-sales.

An auteur of highly crafted character-driven animation tales, who was cherry-picked by Netflix for development of her last project, “Raise the Bar,” about a stereotype-smashing female weightlifter, Fernanda Frick will present video-game fantasy adventure “IRL Squad,” a less offbeat proposition.

A 3D stereoscopic family film that marks most probably the biggest commercial play at Animation!, “Kayara” is the latest Latin American feature to be picked up by Edward Noeltner’s Cinema Management Group, after the L.A. and Paris-based sales agent first acquired banner Brazilian project “Noah’s Ark” off an Animation! presentation.

“Bring on the Revolution!” channels much of the political tensions polarizing Brazil, as many countries around the world.

Other buzz projects at this year’s event take in “3 Tickets,” groundbreaking for adult-skewing Chilean animation, and “Desechable,” from Colombia’s Carlos Salamanca, director of two celebrated animated shorts, “Carne” and “Lupus.”

In general, adult animation at this year’s selection is beginning to take on some of the irrelevant edge of its U.S. counterpart.

This year’s call for submissions also suggests a “trend that is still growing related to content more focused on gender equality, with main characters challenging stereotypes,” said Animation! co-ordinator Silvina Cornillon.

The lineup also highlights a clutch of projects from female first-time feature directors, which are made in exquisite 2D and play off, to varying degree, folklore or folk tales: Cynthia Fernández Trejo’s “The Language of Birds,” from Mexico; “Hain,” from Chile’s Alejandra Jaramillo; “Forest Girl,” from Argentina-based Aili Chen.

The projects:

FEATURE FILM PROJECTS

“Desechable,” (Carlos Salamanca, Colombia)
From the director of animated doc “Lupus,” whose first short, “Carne,” won at Cuba’s Havana Festival. A withering “pre-Apocalyptic” take on big city Latin America, shown in its brutal and poetic reality, homing in on inequality and violence. Winner of four project prizes at Colombia’s Cartagena Festival.

“The Language of the Birds,” (“El Lenguaje de los Pájaros” Cynthia Fernández Trejo, Mexico)
Mixing dainty 2D animation and stop motion, a fantasy suspense drama of a bird-loving girl who arrives at a town with no children. She sets out to find them. From writer-director Fernández Trejo, an alum of Mexico’s famed Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (CCC) and co-writer of Amazon’s “How to Survive Being Single.”

“The Prince of the Fairies,” (“El Principe de las Hadas,” Raúl “Robin,” México)
Elvin, a small boy, is transported to a faerie land where he is half-human, half-elf, and key to the world’s survival. From Morales, who won an Annecy Ciclic-Folimage residency to make animated short “A Tiger Without Stripes.”

“Frui,” (Juan David Zuluaga, Argentina)
From Buenos Aires-based Samsa Videos, which is growing its animation business, an allegorical fantasy drama, to be made in 2D and 3D. Set in lush mountains, where everything seems to float because of low gravity, Camila battles dark forces intent on destroying nature.

“Hain,” (Alejandra Jaramillo, Chile)
A stop motion coming of age fantasy actioner: Four young Selk’nam friends in Tierra del Fuego are attacked by mysterious spirits during their rites of passage, discovering the dark secret of this tradition. A questioning, modern take on Indigenous culture enrolling the extraordinary fantasy world of the Selk’nam, from Jarmaillo, a stop motion animator on “Puerto Papel” and director of animated short, “Halahaches,” a dry-run for “Hain.”

“Kayara” (César Zelada, Peru)
A title that re-teams Tunche Films and Edward Noeltner’s CMG, producer and sales agent on Tunche’s animated feature “Ainbo – Spirit of the Amazon,” a large sales hit for CMG. Directed by “Ainbo” producer Cesar Zelada, the tale of Kayara, who dreams of becoming the first women in the exclusive elite of Inca Chasqui messengers.

“Forest Girl,” (“Niña Bosque,” Aili Chen, Argentina)
Produced by Juan Pablo Miller’s Tarea Cine and Aire Cine, headed by writer-director Ariel Rotter (“The Other, “Incident Light”), two companies which teamed to produce the Cannes Camera d’Or winner “Las Acacias.” “Forest Girl” follows the journey of self-discovery of a child who wakes up in a forest, and has to find her way home, located inside herself, in her emotions. A color 2D, pencil-drawn animated feature with touches of watercolor, building on Chen’s short film, “The Forest Girl.” Rotter is co-writing with Chen.

“Olivia and the Shadows,” (“Olivia y los Misterios,” Juan Carve, Uruguay)
An instructive 2D puppet adventure drama targeting 6-12s, and also a coming of age tale as Olivia, after her mother’s death, moves with her father to Nueva Caledonia, a rainy island, where she has to confront a dangerous enemy haunting the island: Fear itself. Set up at Uruguay’s Chucho.TV, the latest from Carve, writer-producer of animated series “La Orquestita” and short film “Huchohucho,”  both selected for Annecy.

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Desechable Courtesy of Ventana Sur

TV SERIES

“Alen From Patagonia,” (“Alen de la Patagonia,” Dante de Giovanni, Argentina)
A 2D cut-out series from the director of “Caos” and “Percance.” Targeting 8-10s, it turns on Alen, an 8-year-old girl who spends every summer at her grandmother’s home in Patagonia and lives adventures related to Patagonian legend. Set up at IUPA Toons, backed by the the Patagonia University Institute of the Arts (IUPA), and pre-sold to PacaPaca.

“Animal Duo,” (Verónica Arcodaci, Argentina)
Conceived as a short format, 12-part series, for 5-9s and family viewing, focusing in every episode on two animals from different species which teach viewers about relationship dynamics.

“3 Tickets,” (“Dame Tres Tickets,” Catalina Fontecilla, Paulina Díaz, Chile)
Intended for adult audiences, Pájaro Estudio’s “Dame Tres Tickets,” (“Give Me Three Tickets”) tracks a non-binary hyena that loves to party, a posh lesbian albino giraffe and a liberal monkey shaman who share everything, including their love lives, in the exotic town of Longneck things get hairy when one of them tries to bring someone new into the relationship.

“Ghost Bros,” (Jorge Edelstein, Argentina)
Co-produced by Edelstein and Martín Blasi at Yellow Kingdom in Argentina and Emi Ordás at WeDoo Studio in Spain, “Ghost Bros” turns on two undead orphans given a second chance at life when they find a bureaucratic loophole in the afterlife. Adopted by new parents, if each day the family reaches full happiness the kids can stay in the mortal world.

“IRL Squad,” (Fernanda Frick, Chile)
A former Animation! winner in 2017 with “Raise the Bar,” an eventual Netflix development pickup, Frick is back with “IRL Squad,” in which three best friends who have never met in life find a way, through their favorite video game, to teleport to one another. Unfortunately, the monsters from the game quickly realize they can exploit the same bug.

“La Espectacular Saga of the Mask!” (José Alfredo Espinosa Núñez, Mexico)
A YA series following the arrogant son of a famed luchador, this project represents Mexico’s Pixelatl animation festival and market at Animation!. Self-produced by Espinosa, a video game programmer with a passion for developing characters, the series features a painterly 2D animation style and will dabble in both comedy and drama.

“Bring on the Revolution!” (“Que Venha a Revolução!” Aleixo Leite, Brazil)
After impressing at last year’s Animation! with feature film project winner “Bird Kingdom,” Lupa Filmes this time teams with Buraco de Bala and Jetto TV on this documentary series project which animates several important revolutions and the men and women who led them, emphasizing their often undervalued importance forgotten by history.

“Zoé Discoveries,” (“Zoé Descubre,” Alonso Vega, Peru)
Peru’s Maneki produces this preschool series about Zoe, a curious 5-year-old girl who loves spending time at the park near her home. Together with her friends Noa, Paz and Ema, and their beloved puppy Rex, the kids will encounter everyday issues requiring guile and creativity to solve. Award-winning producer Patricio Veloso is attached and looking for potential partners.