Ventana Sur’s Animation! Unveils Latin American Animation! WIPs, Titles Promising ‘Deep Exploration of Social and Environmental Issues’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Roc Espinet’s “Chica y Lobo” and Cynthia Fernández Trejo’s“El Lenguaje de los Pájaros” are two highly-anticipated titlesat Ventana Sur’s 2023 Animation! Works In Progress strand, a joint initiative of Animation! and France’s Annecy Animation Film Festival and its MIFA market.

Animation! and indeed Ventana Sur at large, unspools Nov. 27- Dec. 1 in Buenos Aires.

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“The 2023 selection showcases a wide range of themes, including both serious and profound topics. The cultural richness, creative innovation and meaningful storytelling offered by these films should be highlighted,” Animation! manager Silvina Cornillón told Variety.

Espinet, who works as an animator at the famed Titmouse Studio, brings the fantastic and fabled “Chica y Lobo” to market, the effort based on his third graphic novel published by Spaceman Project.

Having worked on Alberto Vázquez’s Goya-nabbing titles “Decorado” and “Birdboy: The Forgotten Children,” he won a Movistar Plus+ prize for his short film “Colossal Jane.”

Generating further buzz, Fernández Trejo’s “The Language of Birds,” which offers both an inventive and brave narrative, took part in Ventana Sur Animation! Works In Progress pitching sessions in 2020.

“A trend in this year’s Animation! WIPs selection is the deep exploration of social and environmental issues. Filmmakers are using animation as a powerful medium to shed light on climate change, societal challenges, and the resilience of the human spirit, creating narratives that resonate globally,” Cornillón relayed.

“‘Meu avô é um Nihonjin’ explores the theme of cultural identity and family heritage, ‘Mariposas Negras’ addresses important social issues such as climate change and its impact on people’s lives and ‘Norbert’ brings humor and whimsy to the mix. Fantasy and adventure are featured in ‘El Lenguaje de los Pájaros’ and ‘Chica y Lobo,’”she added.

The strand has steadily served as a springboard for new and established talents while managing nearly unparalleled networking opportunities for animated Latin American projects seeking support.

“By being part of Ventana Sur, Animation! gains international visibility and exposure and it amplifies the event’s impact.  It attracts influential players in the global entertainment industry, offering a wider range of business possibilities,” Cornillón admitted.

“It also allows animation professionals to connect with professionals from various sectors of the audiovisual industry, fostering collaborations and partnerships. This exposure helps showcase the region’s creative talent, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of Latin American animation,” she concluded.

Cornillón also confirms a new event hosted by Animation! The Animation Buyers Showcase takes place prior to the Annecy-backed WIP strand at Puerto Madero’s Cinemark Theaters in tandem with Ventana Sur.

The program features a deeper dive into two films set for release early next year. Titles are Diego Lucero and Diego Cagide’s “Robotia la Pelicula,” a co-production between Argentina’s Malabar Producciones (“The Motorhomes”), Spain’s Dibulitoon Studio (“Mystikal”) and Paycom Cinema (“El Osito Boom”) alongside associate producer Costa Rica’s Tropics Creative; and buzz title,“Dalia and the Red Book” from Argentine director David Bisbano (“A Mouse Tale”), a co-production between Argentina (Vista Sur, FilmSharks), Spain (Doce/Mr. Miyagi), Peru (Golem), Brazil (Cine2), Colombia (Signos) and Ecuador (Matte).

A further overview of the selected WIP and Showcase picks:

Works In Progress 2023:

“Norbert,” (José Corral, Spain)

Norbert is an unlikely spy from drab and dismal Graylandia. He becomes a central character in plans to thwart the leaders of his country when they conspire to destroy neighboring Colorlandia, the vibrant community that introduces him to countless possibilities.

Goya-nominated Corral (“El Desván”), whose debut feature “Counting Sheep” hones in on another hapless man in search of purpose, aims for a unique aesthetic that sets the film apart from mainstream productions. A co-production between Spain’s indie outfit Capitán Araña (“Ozzy”), lauded Aquí y Allí Films (“Life and Nothing More”) and Buenos Aires-based Vista Sur Films (“Dalia and the Red Book”), the project uses 3D techniques to sculpt its world.


“Chica y Lobo,” (“Girl and Wolf”) (Roc Espinet, Spain)

Paula’s the most innocent and fearful girl in her village and goes about her simple daily routines with ease until her life is abruptly interrupted by the wolves that inhabit the surrounding forests. She quickly finds herself in the middle of a battle between man and beast as she’s tasked with diving into her past traumas to embrace a dark side that will allow her to negotiate peace and stand as the leader of the pack.

Espinet sets the tone with 2D animation in his directorial debut. Venerable Spanish outfit Latido Films (“Lullaby”) handles sales for the film, with Xosé Zapata at Sygnatia Films (“Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles”) and Álex Cervantes at Hampa Studio (“Black y Beltza”) heading production.

“Mariposas Negras,” (“Black Butterflies”) (David Baute, Spain)

Lobuin, Vanesa and Soma hail from different parts of the globe but share the same dire outcome as they’re forced to flee their homes when environmental changes make them fastly uninhabitable

Produced by leading Spanish producer Edmond Roch at Ikiru Films (“Tad, The Lost Explorer,” “Capture The Flag”) alongside Tinglado Film (“Ona”) and Anangu Grup (“Mummies”), the project puts the impacts of environmental decay on full display, using 2D renderings to animate its cohesive narratives. The script, penned by Yaiza Berrocal, follows David Baute’s live-action documentary.

Black Butterflies
Black Butterflies

“El Lenguaje de los Pájaros,” (“The Language of Birds”) (Cynthia Fernández Trejo, Mexico)

Birdloving Natalia has just moved to a town where there are no other children and the adults have seemingly forgotten they ever existed. As she explores, she finds a forest cave where the children congregate under the reign of a creature called The Devourer.

She’s tasked with solving this mysterious phenomenon to return to her mother before she, too, becomes obsolete.

Produced by David Flores Mendieta at Cinebandada, animation techniques oscillate between 2D and stop-motion. Fernández Trejo is an alum of Mexico’s venerable Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (CCC) and co-writer of Amazon’s “How to Survive Being Single.”

The Language of Birds
The Language of Birds

“Meu avô é um Nihonjin,” (“My Grandfather is a Nihonjin”) (Ceila Catunda, Brazil)

Noboru, 10, is coming-of-age and in search of his cultural identity. Turning to his Japanese grandfather, Hideo, to fill in the blanks, the two embark on a journey that leads them towards further self-discovery while digging into the family’s immigration to São Paulo, Brazil and unearthing details of Noboru’s long-lost uncle.

Based on Oscar Nakasato’s award-winning 2011 novel “Nihonjin,” the aesthetic is inspired by the art of Brazilian-Japanese painter Oscar Oiwa, that merges both cultures. Produced by Ricardo Rozzino and Kiko Mistrorigo at director Ceila Catunda-founded Pinguim Content (“Fishtronaut”), the script was written by Rita Catunda (“Earth to Luna”). The project took part in the Ventana Sur 2018 Animation! Pitching Sessions.

My Grandfather is a Nihonjin
My Grandfather is a Nihonjin

Animation! Buyers Showcase:

“Robotia, La Película” (Diego Lucero, Diego Cagide, Argentina, España, Costa Rica)

Based on the television series of the same name, the narrative follows a young girl who dreams of playing football in a world that’s been overrun by androids. Against her family’s wishes and with the help of her friends, she realizes her dreams and proves just what they can accomplish on and off the field. The project participated in Animation Day at Cannes Marché du Film presented by Animation! in 2021. It uses 3D technique to relay the hope-fuelled narrative.

Robotia, La Pelicula
Robotia, La Pelicula

“Dalia and the Red Book” (David Bisbano, Argentina, Spain, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador)

Dalia’s 12 and the daughter of a highly-lauded author, recently departed. She sets out to finish her fathers last book and dives headlong into the imaginary world of its characters who’ve commandeered the narrative, each competing for the role of protagonist.

An ambitious mix of CGI, stop-motion and 2D animation, the long-awaited Cannes Market title was scooped by The Walt Disney Co./Star Distribution for Latin America and Germany, and picked up by Rocket Releasing for Russia and the Baltics, AV-Jet in Taiwan, Muse Ent. in Singapore, and Nos Lusomundo in Portugal.

Dalia and the Red Book
Dalia and the Red Book

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