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Cesar Cabral’s “Bob Spit: We Do Not Like People,” Roy Ambriz and Arturo Ambriz’s  “Frankelda’s Book of Spooks,” and “Beast” topped the 5th Ibero-American Animation Quirino Awards, which took place May 14 at San Cristóbal de La Laguna, on the Canary Island of Tenerife.

It’s no coincidence that the three main prizes have gone to stop-motion works. The plaudits offer further proof of a growing mastery of this technique in Latin America, as well as then high level and extraordinary artistic diversity of animation titles coming to of Latin America, which is increasingly acknowledged on international markets.

Produced by Coala Filmes and Cup Films in Brazil, “Bob Spit: We Do Not Like People” was also nominated for the recent Platino Awards and took the 2021 Contrechamp Award at the Annecy Int’l Film Festival. Outsider Pictures handles worldwide distribution rights of the animated feauture.

Also nabbing awards for sound design and original music, “Bob Spit” is a documentary about one of the best-known Brazilian cartoonists, Arnaldo Angeli Filho. It’s also a hallucinogenic road movie with an ambitious artistic approach threading formal and narrative procedures such as Angeli’s Q&As with his graphic novel characters.

Remarkably, all nominated titles in the feature category were directorial debuts, marking an obvious emergence of new talent in the region as well as industry build.

Main kudos for an animated series and animation design went to “Frankelda’s Book of Spooks,” a production from rapidly growing Mexican studio Cinema Fantasma, behind the Guillermo del Toro-backed “Revoltoso.” HBO Max has picked up U.S. rights although its domestic release hasn’t been announced yet despite fanbase demands on social media.

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Frankelda’s Book of Spooks Credit: Cinema Fantasma

A terror-fantasy tale in stop-motion for all audiences and a true phenomenon in Mexico, “Frankelda” follows an enigmatic ghostwriter, always accompanied by her haunted book, who tells stories about children’s encounters with monsters, helping kids to face their inner fears in the process. Five seven-minute episodes are conceived as an anthology for introducing the genre to kids.

This year’s Academy Award-nominated “Beast” took best short and visual development awards. Directed by Hugo Covarrubias, it is the second Chilean short to garner an Oscar nomination after Punkrobot Studio’s “Bear Story” which went on to win an Academy Award in 2016. Produced by Tevo Díaz, “Beast” has received a slew of festival selections and prizes including the Grand Jury Award at South by Southwest (SXSW), the Annie Award for best animated short subject, and the Annecy Festival’s Connexion Prize.

Based on real events, “Beast” focuses on a female torturer, represented by an antique porcelain figure, working at the Chilean Intelligence Directorate (DINA) during the early years of Augusto Pinochet’s brutal dictatorship.

“There’s a remarkable maturity on display at this edition, not just in terms of the level of nominations and prizes but also because of the involvement of film bodies and institutions, something that strengthens the Quirino event as a key think tank for Ibero-American animation,” Quirino Awards director José Luis Farias told Variety.

Backed by ICEX Spain Trade & Investment, the country’s export and inward investment board – which was a key supporter of the significantly enlarged Malaga Spanish Screenings – the Quirinos’ Co-production and Business Forum attracted more than a hundred companies, including production outfits such as Adult Swim, The Walt Disney Company, Cinema Management Group (U.S.), Mexico’s Anima, Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon, Miyu Distribution, Dandeloo, Indie Sales (France) and Toonz Media (India).

40 institutions and diverse sector lobbies participated at different events organized around the Quirino event, which also hosted the 41st conference of the Ibero-American Audiovisual and Film Authorities (CAACI) and the 20th Summit of Intergovernmental Council of Ibermedia, the multi-million-dollar pan-regional fund supporting film and TV across Spain, Portugal and Latin America.

Pubcasters of the region also celebrated a meeting evaluating their roles in helping to boost animation. Yago Fandiño, head of kids content at Spanish pubcaster RTVE, announced Spain’s public television involvement in six new animation TV shows and two season renewals. Some of the new series are “Samuel,” produced by Arte France, France’s Les Valseurs and Spain’s Pikkukala, which was a hit at Bordeaux’s latest  Cartoon Movie this year, “My Brother is a Trez,” from Mr. Klaus Studios, and “Cebra con Lunares,” by Sygnatia & Parrocha Studio.

The Quirino Awards’ biggest backer is the Cabildo government of Tenerife, channeling its support via the Tenerife Film Commission and the island’s Tourism Area.

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Beast Credit: Hugo Covarrubias