Having already topped its pre-pandemic heights, the massive attendance at this year’s Annecy edition is indicative of the flourishing post-pandemic boom that the whole audiovisual industry is feeling.

Amidst this promising landscape, Colombian animation has made a strong appearance in both Annecy’s Official Selection and its MIFA market alongside an event presented by BAM – the Bogotá Audiovisual Market – where five projects targeting kids 3-11 were pitched.

Colombia’s presence is the result of an exponential growth in the animation sector that by 2019 was globally exporting projects valued at $100,000 and which rounded off 2021 with that figure at $3.5 million.

Reasons for exponential growth cut several ways; Colombia’s tax rebate; a growing generation of artists with a firm hold on the technical aspects of animation’s pipeline structure; and the ever-growing presence of international companies.

Launched in 2003, but built upon since then, Colombian film incentives have made the country a model for Latin America. In particular, the CINA – Certificado de Inversión Audiovisual – which offers a 35% rebate on investment made by an international production. Since its creation in 2020, CINA has already backed a grand total of 57 projects and 35 productions for a total of 92 projects. Although it has often been an uphill battle for Colombian filmmakers to maintain these rebates, the increasing presence of platforms – Prime Video, Apple TV, Discovery Plus, Starzplay, Netflix – among others have proven the international appeal and strategic strength of the incentives.

Although stylistically very different from one another, all the projects pitched at the Colombian Animation event shared a far more refined technical approach and a style that held a clear voice and identity while channelling multiple international referents.

Both achievements speak volumes of the rapid evolution of the sector for a country that over the last decades had produced a scant number of animation features. A film, “Chocó: The Land and The Monsters,” helmed by Estefanía Pineres, stood out among a series of different formats like “Animétricas,” “The Tales of Villa Pio” and “En La Diestra de Dios Padre.” The feature showed what titles like “Tropical Virus” and “Len and the Song of the Wales” had previously exhibited: a search for an audiovisual identity rooted in the country’s own aesthetics.

The same occurred with the films in competition, most of them short films produced by relatively new productions, many in co-production with other Latin American countries. Carlos Velandia appeared twice directing “La Mujer Como Imagen” that screened at Short Films Off Limits and, co-directing with María Angélica Restrepo Gúzman, with “Todas mis Cicatrices se Desvanecen en el Viento”.

The arrival of big players has created a far more complex influx than expected. What was once feared as ushering in industry monopoly has proved to be, on the contrary, an enriching ecosystem where small, indie companies have a chance to grow at a faster rate and form an experienced team that handles international high-end content.

Some 55 projects from over 12 different countries across Europe, America and Asia are currently performing post-production in Colombia. This underscores the fact that growth is not solely led by the search for an IP but a more mature service market that has experienced a steady expansion, with now over 30 companies in the sector.

At MIFA, there was an array of Colombian productions that proved in their work reel the blossoming of this ecosystem. Among them were ASIFA Colombia, Bombillo Amarillo, BIOTA Studios, 3DADOS Media, Cacumen Creative Studio, El Tuerto Pictures, Artistes Folks Colombia, Perrenque Media, Signos Studios and Team Toon Studio.

Camilo Martínez, director of ProColombia France pointed out: “As more companies open branches in Colombia, the animation sector strengthens and in turn secures a more international presence.”

He continued: “Our relatively small teams have proven their capacity to remain competitive both in terms of qualitative output as well as in market pricing when placed in contrast with larger teams, whilst simultaneously boasting greater flexibility in the work process.”