28 October 2020

Pure talent: The solid present and promising future of Chile’s animation industry

October 28 is International Animation Day, which commemorates the first public screening of Théâtre Optique (Optical Theatre) by French animation pioneer Émile Reynaud. The showing, which took place at the Grevin Museum in Paris in 1892, included three short films entitled ‘Pauvre Pierrot! (Poor Pete),’ ‘Le Clown et ses chiens (The Clown and His Dogs)’ and ‘Un bon bock (A Good Beer).’

Today, 128 years after Émile Reynaud made history, we celebrate a field that has gathered momentum in Chile over the past few years. Several Chilean audiovisual production companies have gained a foothold internationally thanks to the content, creativity and aesthetic quality of their films. The creators’ talent and the professionalization of the industry have been among the keys to the success of Chilean animation abroad.

The turning point for Chile’s contributions to this industry came in 2016, when the short film ‘Historia de un oso (Bear Story)’ became the first Chilean production and first Latin American animated film to win an Oscar. This milestone brought national and international recognition to the industry and provided the impetus needed to show the world the talent and hard work of the teams behind animated productions in Chile.

We spoke with Niles Sallah of the audiovisual studio Diluvio about why the animation industry is enjoying such strength and how Chile has positioned itself on the world stage as a worthy competitor in the production of animated material. According to the filmmaker, several changes have allowed the animation industry to flourish in Chile. The first involved overcoming the barrier of technology and digitalization. Sallah explains that, “The field started to become more democratic about 20 years ago due to technological change and the number of digital cameras and processes. This brought about a significant change, and the industry has boomed over the past two decades because of it. Now there are people making films on their phones, and it is quick, cheap and accessible,” Sallah says.

Zumbastico producer Álvaro Ceppi explains that another factor that has strengthened the quality of Chilean productions has been the professionalization of the industry, which means that there are lots of trained and talented artists.  “Chilean animation has grown a great deal over the past 20 years. Where the industry used to just make commercials, now there are original ideas being produced by talented Chilean artists who were trained even before there were schools. The first professionals were self-taught. Now there are seven animation schools in Santiago alone,” Ceppi explains.

The availability of finance through entities like the Audiovisual Fund, National Television Council and Chile’s Economic Development Agency (Corfo) has enabled this industry to be promoted and move forward. “A virtuous circle has developed between better quality, academic training, and increased production due to state support, and thus internationalization,” the Zumbastico producer explains.

Chilean animation has grown and developed, making an international name for itself as a high-quality product based on its technical level and creative content. Productions like ‘Hostal Morrison (Morrison Hostel)’ (Productora Pájaro) and ‘Puerto Papel (Paper Port)’ (Zumbastico Studios) have been watched around the world. Álvaro Ceppi recognizes that, “It’s important to understand that even though we [Chileans] don’t have a well-established track record in international animation, over the past few years, Chile has succeeded in gaining a significant presence at festivals, markets, etc. due to public and private support.”

Award-winning Made in Chile Production Companies

The Chilean animation production companies that are setting trends include:

  • Zumbastico: This animation studio has a 17-year history and has produced nine animated series. They create original content and have several noteworthy products, including 2010’s ‘Zumbastico Fantástico,’ which was the first original Latin American content to make it to the Cartoon Network. Another one of their key projects, ‘Puerto Papel (Paper Port),’ is a two-season series that has a presence in over 50 countries around the world. It was produced in collaboration with the network Globo de Brasil and public TV in Colombia and Argentina and has been translated into over 20 languages. This production has won over 20 international awards for the creativity of the storyline and its hybrid technique, which combines stop motion and 2D digital animation in the characters’ faces. This technique, which they call ‘paper motion,’ made a splash in the international industry and allowed them to partner with international production companies, leading to the sale of part of the entity to Canada’s Pipeline Studios. Zumbastico has just completed a series called ‘Doggie World’ for Disney and Nat Geo Kids. It was awarded funding from the National Television Council and is its first series produced entirely in English.
  • Diluvio: Its main animated creation is the film ‘Casa Lobos (The Wolf House),’ which was produced by Niles Atallah and Catalina Vergara and directed by Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León. The full-length stop motion animated film won an award at the 2018 Berlin Film Festival. The company is currently developing a new film that will include 3D animation.
  • Punkrobot Studio: This 3D animation studio was created by Antonia Herrera, Gabriel Osorio, María Elisa Soto-Aguilar and Pato Escala. It has developed high visual impact projects for TV, advertising and film since 2008. Highlights include the preschool series ‘Flipos’ (2010) and ‘Las aventuras de Muelín y Perlita (The Adventures of Muelín and Perlita)’ (2013) and the animated short ‘Historia de un oso (Bear Story)’ (2014), which won Latin America’s first Oscar for animation and Chile’s first ever Oscar. Their team is currently working on the preschool series ‘Guitarra y Tambor (Guitar and Drum)’ and on a feature length project.
  • Pájaro: Bernadita Ojeda is the director of this Chilean animation production company. Their latest work, the animated series ‘Petit,’ based on the book ‘Petit, el monstruo (Petit The Monster),’ was nominated for an International Emmy® Kids Award in the Preschool category. They also won the OEI prize for best Ibero-American film in DIVERCINE number 29.
  • Marmota Studio: They began creating original cartoons on YouTube. In 2017, they won the Audiovisual Fund award. Their most popular animation is ‘Golpea duro Hara (Hit Hard, Hara!),’ a series on Cartoon Network LA. They currently have three webseries: ‘Personas Cetáceas (Cetacean People),’ ‘Abuelo Com (Grandpa.com)’ and ‘Nadki Mágico (Magic Nadki).’

Related

Learn more >

Non-fiction contributions to Chilean cinema

November 29 is Chilean Cinema Day, which was established in memory of filmmakers Jorge Müller and Carmen Bueno. This year it comes just days after a great piece of news for the industry. On November 19, it was announced that Maite Alberdi’s film The Mole Agent (El agente topo) would represent Chile at the Academy Awards in the category of Best International Feature Film.

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.

Chilean social innovation wins international contest

The national project “Algramo” earned the USD $300.000 prize awarded by the “Chivas: The Venture” initiative.