German Acuña’s “Nahuel and the Magic Book” has been acquired for international distribution by Madrid-based sales company Latido Films.
The only Latin American feature selected for main competition at June’s Annecy Animation Intl. Festival, where it world premiered to upbeat reactions, “Nahuel and the Magic Book” will be introduced to potential buyers at next week’s online American Film Market. The AFM screening marks the animated movie’s market bow.
Toon feature is executive produced by Chile’s Punkrobot, which won a 2016 best animated short Academy Award for “Bear Story.”
Fruit of Chile’s build as one of Latin America’s premier animation powers, Acuña’s first feature is a family-friendly 2D animated movie lead produced by Chile Carburadores, founded by Acuña and producer Sebastian Ruz in 2007, and co-produced by Brazil’s Levante Films.
Written by Juan Pablo Sepúlveda and Acuña, “Nahuel” is set in a world full of magic and ancient mysticism, drawing on the myths of the southern Chilean island of Chiloé, while telling the story of a Nahuel, 12, who has a deep fear of the sea. When his father is captured by a malignant sorcerer, he sets out to rescue him, conquering his fears along the way.
Acuña has commented that the film’s central themes are “overcoming fears” and the father-son relationship. “Nahuel’s fear drives the plot but the family story is really at the film’s heart,” Acuña told Variety.
“The premise was that affective, emotional bonds are our best strength when confronting our deepest fears.”
In “Nahuel,” Acuña added, the key is the protagonist’s cold, distant relation with his father. “So both elements are inevitably linked in their resolution, which I think is what’s heart-warming about the film.”
Family animation movies are showing a certain resilience at the box office during COVID-19. Animation is also highly attractive to streaming platforms given its anti-churn effect: Parents often prove reluctant to change OTT services and deprive their children of their favorite animated shows.
“The real reason why we fell in love with ‘Nahuel,’ however, is because it’s an extremely well-crafted animated feature which is highly creative, touching, with surprises at every turn and tells a beautiful story that is open to all audiences in the world, and is made by an extremely talented team,” said Antonio Saura, Latido Films CEO.
Family animation also allows Latin American filmmakers to honor the region’s great tradition of making films of substance, while reaching out to broad audiences, Saura observed.
“In contrast to many other parts of the world, Latin American animation consistently addresses very important issues, without that affecting the accessibility or commerciality of the story.”
Jamie Lang contributed to this article.