Ventana Sur’s Female Animation Directors Mentoring Unveils Projects

“Highlands Shadow,” “Cursed Fathers” and “Greta’s Journal” are among five animation projects selected for a new women animation directors’ training initiative launched this year at Ventana Sur’s Animation!, in alliance with France’s Annecy Festival and Argentina’s Institut Français.

A 2D eight-episode series “Highlands Shadow” weighs in as a fantasy grounded in traditional folklore mixing action, mystery and political attitude.

Targeting young adults and addressing  gender and LGBTIQ+ issues, the series turns on Juana, a girl from Humahuaca whose sister Marisol has been captured by a human trafficking cartel. To save her, she makes a deal with two haunted machetes, becoming a super heroine. Director Paula Boffo is prizewinning gender-focused graphic novelist. Argentina’s Ojo Raro produces.

Also aimed at a YA crowd, “Cursed Fathers” a 2D first feature from Bolivia’s Matisse González, whose graduation short “Gravity” was nominated for Annie and Quirino Awards, is produced by Argentina’s Celeste and Germany’s Studio Seufz.

Described by its producers as a  “narrative comedy about an exquisitely damned family,” it turns on Kiki, the youngest daughter in a large Bolivian family which thinks it is cursed. Knowing she’s next in line to suffer the consequences, she embarks on a journey to find out whether the curse is real and to put a stop to it.

Targeting pre-school audiences, Peru’s “Greta’s Journal” is produced by Wuf Studio, co-founded by the project’s director, Elva Alessandra Arrieta, who designed the characters and scenery for the country’s first stop-motion series, “Martina y Rigoberto.”

“Greta’s Journal” is another stop-motion series about the eponymous heroine and her friends growing up and discovering a whole surprising world. She records most everything in her journal, which will help her to better understand her own learning process, high points and mistakes.

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Greta’s Journal
Courtesy: Animation!

The program provides a month-long introductory training. Any Latin American animated series or features project from a woman director is eligible for the program.

Two chosen projects will also be selected to participate at Annecy’s next MIFA market.

Of other projects, 2D series “Flavor Quest” is intended for kids. It’s produced by Chile’s Estudio Rayo Púrpura with Maria Coello attached to direct. The TV show follows the adventures of Vera who, guided by a magical cookbook, has a mission to set free lost flavors.

Argentina’s Tamandua Estudio and Primavera Films will produce Directed by Emilce Avalos, “Future Woman,” a feminist-laced series mixing documentary and experimental animation. Each episode uses a  different animation technique, such as cut-out, rotoscoping, and 2D.

Program tutors include MIFA head of projects & education Géraldine Baché and Rémi Guittet, the Argentine Institut Français’ audiovisual cooperation attaché.

Also on board is Eleanor Coleman, head of international development and pre-sales at France’s Blue Spirit Productions, Heath Kenny, CCO at Canada’s Mercury Filmworks and Eloa Sahiry, a pitch coach at France’s L.A. Conseils.

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Cursed Fathers
Courtesy: Animation!

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Ventana Sur’s Animation! Highlights Women, Edgier Adult Animation (EXCLUSIVE)

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Fernanda Frick’s “IRL Squad,” the Cinema Management Group-sold “Kayara” and Brazil’s “Bring on the Revolution!” are three of the 16 film and TV animation projects at Animation!, one of the industry highlights at the upcoming Ventana Sur, Latin America’s biggest film market.

Running Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, and available on Ventana Sur online, Animation!’s pitches, organized with the Annecy Animation Festival’s MIFA market, play off a building animation scene in Latin America. Animation!’s pitches received 241 submissions this year, an all-time record.

The projects look set as ever to frame some of the strongest movie market titles at Ventana Sur: A exceptional big animated feature production from Latin America, backed by a reputable sales agent, can now spark seven-figure dollar pre-sales.

An auteur of highly crafted character-driven animation tales, who was cherry-picked by Netflix for development of her last project, “Raise the Bar,” about a stereotype-smashing female weightlifter, Fernanda Frick will present video-game fantasy adventure “IRL Squad,” a less offbeat proposition.

A 3D stereoscopic family film that marks most probably the biggest commercial play at Animation!, “Kayara” is the latest Latin American feature to be picked up by Edward Noeltner’s Camera Management Group, after the L.A. and Paris-based sales agent first acquired banner Brazilian project “Noah’s Ark” off an Animation! presentation.

“Bring on the Revolution!” channels much of the political tensions polarizing Brazil, as many countries around the world.

Other buzz projects at this year’s event take in “3 Tickets,” groundbreaking for adult-skewing Chilean animation, and “Desechable,” from Colombia’s Carlos Salamanca, director of two celebrated animated shorts, “Carne” and “Lupus.”

In general, adult animation at this year’s selection is beginning to take on some of the irrelevant edge of its U.S. counterpart.

This year’s call for submissions also suggests a “trend that is still growing related to content more focused on gender equality, with main characters challenging stereotypes,” said Animation! co-ordinator Silvina Cornillon.

The lineup also highlights a clutch of projects from female first-time feature directors, which are made in exquisite 2D and play off, to varying degree, folklore or folk tales: Cynthia Fernández Trejo’s “The Language of Birds,” from Mexico; “Hain,” from Chile’s Alejandra Jaramillo; “Forest Girl,” from Argentina-based Aili Chen.

The projects:

FEATURE FILM PROJECTS

“Desechable,” (Carlos Salamanca, Colombia)

From the director of animated doc “Lupus,” whose first short, “Carne,” won at Cuba’s Havana Festival. A withering “pre-Apocalyptic” take on big city Latin America, shown in its brutal and poetic reality, homing in on inequality and violence. Winner of four project prizes at Colombia’s Cartagena Festival.

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

Mixing dainty 2D animation and stop motion, a fantasy suspense drama of a bird-loving girl who arrives at a town with no children. She sets out to find them. From writer-director Fernández Trejo, an alum of Mexico’s famed Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (CCC) and co-writer of Amazon’s “How to Survive Being Single.”

“The Prince of the Fairies,” (“El Principe de

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Women in Animation Expands 2021 Scholarship Awards With New Autodesk, Unity Partnerships

Autodesk and Unity are joining returning partners Animation Mentor and Toon Boom to expand Women in Animation’s awards for the organization’s 2021 WIA Scholarship recipients.

WIA gives out scholarships annually to college students studying animation who demonstrate artistic talent, a passion for animation, a financial need and a promising future in the industry. The application process is open to college students worldwide who identify as female or non-binary and who are pursuing degrees in various animation disciplines.

“WIA is thrilled to have leading 3D software developer Autodesk and Unity, the world’s leading platform for creating and operating interactive, real-time 3D (RT3D) content, join returning partners Animation Mentor and Toon Boom for the 2021 Scholarship Program,” said WIA presient Marge Dean. “We’ve been extremely fortunate to have ongoing support from Animation Mentor, the premium mentoring program for our industry, as well as Toon Boom, the leader in storyboard and 2D animation software, which — in addition to providing access to their innovative software and training — has very generously supported WIA’s scholarship fund, further enabling the next generation of diverse talents. We are grateful to all of this year’s industry partners for their commitment to furthering educational opportunities and resources for scholarship recipients.”

Autodesk will provide scholarship recipients with licenses to its 3D modeling and animation software as well as yearlong subscriptions to either Autodesk Maya or Autodesk 3ds Max. “It’s inspiring to be part of a project like the WIA Scholarship Program which provides rising talent with the resources to take their careers to the next level, and paves the way for more diverse storytellers and leaders in our industry,” said Autodesk industry marketing manager, entertainment, Jocelyn Moffatt.

Unity will offer 15 annual Unity Pro licenses and 15 annual ArtEngine licenses to help recipients gain skills using real-time 3D tools and technology found in the animation industry.

Animation Mentor will provide one WIA Animation Scholarship winner with a six-week workshop, offering the recipient a choice among a 13 courses, including Maya Workshop: Animation Basics, Cartoony Animation for 3D Animators and the brand new course 2D Animation: Walk Cycles & Character Movement. “Animation Mentor is so excited to continue our partnership with Women in Animation,” said Animation Mentor co-founder Bobby Beck. “WIA’s many great resources and worthy mission benefit not only our students but the animation industry as a whole.”

Toon Boom will offer scholarship recipients both software and scholarship funds. Finalists will receive one-year bundled licenses of Storyboard Pro and Harmony Premium and three scholarship winners will split scholarship funds. “Toon Boom Animation is focused on strengthening its partnership with WIA by working together on projects that encourage diversity and female leadership in animation arts and business,” said Toon Boom’s director of marketing Stephanie Quinn. “By providing women animators the best software and training, we look to support their creative journeys from inspiration to big screen.”

The deadline to apply for the WIA Animation Scholarship Program is Dec. 1 with recipients to be announced in February 2021. For more information,

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