6 August 2020

Chilean animation: a growing young industry

For the third consecutive year, a Chilean animated film has been selected for the Annecy Festival. Nahuel and the Magic Book is a feature-length film directed by Germán Acuña, inspired by the landscapes and people of Chiloé Island.

Nahuel and the Magic Book was the only Latin American and only Spanish-language film selected for the 2020 Annecy Festival official Feature Film competition, which was held this year online from June 15 through June 30. The movie, written by Germán Acuña and Juan Pablo Sepúlveda, was co-produced by Chile and Brazil, with Chile being the majority co-producer (80%) and Brazil the minority co-producer (20%). The film combines adventure, fantasy and myths from Chiloé as it tells the story of a 12 year-old boy who must rescue his father, who has been captured by a dark sorcerer. Along the way, the boy must face his deepest fears.

A family trip to Chiloé Island in 2011 inspired director Germán Acuña to create the film. He said, “at that time I already had my production company and when I went to Chiloé, I saw the place with new eyes. I realized that the island is rich in mythology, culture and landscapes. Chiloé has a great deal of raw material and elements that can be used to tell stories inspired by this mythology.”

Through carrying out a great deal of research and interviews with local inhabitants, Germán was able to immerse himself into the culture, traditions, myths and legends that are very much alive on the island. “For me, it was astonishing to see that these beliefs are not superficial, but rather that the people in this region have thousands of stories involving myths and sorcerers.”

What is the relationship between the feature-length animated film and Chiloé Island in the south of Chile?

What does Nahuel and the Magic Book hope to reveal about the indigenous Mapuche culture through its characters?

G.A: It is a film that tries to bring people closer together on a cultural level while also providing pop culture entertainment. The feature-length film will hopefully be seen by a large number of people and as a result, we hope that children will become interested in the Mapuche culture through these characters. I believe that this will have much more of an impact than trying to teach it in a lesson.

How has the Chilean animation industry grown over the last few years?

G.A: I hope that every Chilean production represents a step forward. Chile does not have a history of full-length animated films. In fact, there are very few. The animated film Bear Story, which won the Oscar in 2016, put Chile on the world map.

How is Nahuel and the Magic Book different from other Chilean movies that have been selected for the Annecy Festival?

I believe that what makes Nahuel different is that it was selected for the official competition and that it is about family. It is letting the world know that movies made in Chile and the rest of South America can appeal to wide audiences and are commercially viable. Also, the technical quality is another noteworthy aspect, because in general, not many productions in Latin America have achieved this level of technical and artistic quality.

Do you believe that Chile has the talent needed for the industry to continue to grow and gain worldwide recognition with home-grown productions?

Watch the first official trailer.

 

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