In tandem with its world premiere in competition at the Young Audiences Short Film Strand at Annecy, the team behind the tender Argentine short title, ‘La Calesita,’ will be offering up a bit of magic to those attending the screenings: Customized tickets for a ride on the town’s ornate, family-owned carousel.

The short, written and directed by Annie Award-nominated filmmaker Augusto Schillaci and produced by Reel FX Animation associate producer Oliver Benavidez, tells the heartwarming tale of a proud and determined carousel-keep who finds immense joy in maintaining family tradition by operating the neighborhood merry-go-round.

In “La Calesita,” his dutiful and attentive nature is on display as he joyously rides through vivid and colorful Buenos Aires streetscapes en route to work, where he takes a keen interest in the families that visit each day. He plays matchmaker, confidant, and watchful eye, with dignity.

“Often, people overlook how important these contributions are in shaping communities, their neighborhoods. Generations of the same families pass through these merry-go-rounds,” reflects Schillaci. “In Argentina, Sunday afternoon is one of the most popular times for families to go to the calesita, and while their children play on it, the parents socialize and get to know each other, bringing the neighborhood, the community closer.”

The film depicts our protagonist’s journey without dialogue, tracking his progress and struggle through dynamic facial expressions and the colors used in each scene. The hues range from bright purple jacaranda trees and stunning hot pink city sunsets to gray concrete structures and dark city streets. The dichotomy is a stunning example of how to animate the psyche.

“I wanted to tell a story with no dialogue so it could be understood anywhere in the world. Because of that, the main character needed to emote his feelings with the face and body only. This made animation very complex to achieve,” stated Schillaci.

In a 10-minute run, the uplifting title provides the sense that a community is greater than the sum of its parts, as we see characters our protagonist has befriended over the years come to his aid to help him achieve his dream. A feel-good tale that allows the main character to grow old, his heart still full of hope and promise.

“I believe that these are very important values and that the community, above the individual, will move humanity forward towards a better world,” Schillaci mused.

He went on: “Animation often focuses on big fantasy adventures with fictional characters and while those are super fun, I wanted to show a more grounded story with a character that you could see every day on the street.  It was very important for me to tell a story of an elderly person. We need more stories and animated characters like that.”

To coincide with a core theme of solidarity, the team has paired with Annecy to craft custom tickets for each screening that will also provide complimentary rides on the famed Annecy manège carousel at its Le Pâquier park. A show of appreciation for the locals and a way to give back to the community, Reel FX (“The Book of Life”), alongside Annecy and the owners of the carousel, has donated 500 tickets to charities working with displaced families, many from Ukraine.

“When Augusto started to write ‘La Calesita,’ we immediately thought of the historic 1906 Manège Dufaux carousel, which is not only an iconic landmark of the animation festival, but also a centerpiece in the town of Annecy for kids and families. The festival isn’t only for the animation community, the organizers go to great lengths to include the community of Annecy in a variety of ways including the nightly outdoor screenings which happen to be next to the Manège,” said Chuck Peil, EVP of strategic partnerships for Reel FX.

As “La Calesita’ depicts, the smallest gestures can make lasting impressions, and the team believes their film and an earnest dose of wonderment will bring the title’s underlying message to Annecy in real-time.

“One of the themes of La Calesita is the importance and value of a strong community and the simple, yet powerful, idea of genuinely caring for others. The world just came through a heartbreaking pandemic with so much loss and isolation. Even in those dark moments, hope is brought back by simple gestures of love and support, individually and as a community,” Peil stated.

He concluded: “As we watched, hundreds of kids, teens and families start to fill up the enormous Le Paquier lawn for the nightly screenings, we couldn’t help but be moved by the notion that what draws everybody together for a few hours as one community is an animated story, being played against the backdrop of the beautiful historic Annecy Manège.”

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La Calesita Credit: Reel FX