Animation in Mexico is having its día. Similar to other emerging markets in the global $254-billion toon industry, the country’s studios and artists are being spurred by a demand for original content from digital streaming platforms; earlier this year, Netflix ordered its first Mexican anime, Seis Manos. Local animators are finally getting the international attention they deserve — and much of that can be credited to Pixelatl Festival.
When it launched in 2014 in Cuernavaca (around an hour from Mexico City), Pixelatl Festival was already the largest animation, video game and comics event the country had ever seen, with an itinerary including screenings, lectures, workshops and more. Its original mandate was to foster a culture where Mexican studios could develop, produce and export original work. It seems to have succeeded; Pixelatl Festival director José Iñesta told “Mexico News Daily” that the industry there has grown from two to 20 productions annually, with six screened at the prestigious Annecy International Animated Film Festival last year.
Pixelatl Festival now attracts not only the top talent from across Mexico and LatAm, but the world. In fact, it has grown by 40 percent in terms of attendees, animation professionals, executives and audiences. For the 2018 edition, Coco director Lee Unkrich will be giving a presentation on his creative process, Walt Disney Animation will be doing portfolio reviews and Toon Boom Animation will be hosting both a Toon Boom Harmony live demo and happy hour, and be sending a delegation including LatAm account manager Carlos Ruiz and Mexican brand ambassador Alejandra Wiechers.
Success hasn’t distracted Pixelatl’s leaders from their mission of elevating Mexican animation talent; the event’s Ideatoon Summit gives local creators the mentorship and platform to pitch to international broadcasters, while Cartoon Network has launched its Girl Power: Pitch Me initiative to empower female artists from across LatAm. Anima, one of the largest studios in the region, is also hosting a recruiting session and is seeking storyboard artists, digital compositors and 2D animators.
Ultimately, the event aims to build an industry of leaders — one where studios and artists are not just used for outsourced service work, but create original content of their own. If you are an animator in Mexico or LatAm, here are six reasons why you need to be at Pixelatl Festival 2018.
Toon Boom Harmony Happy Hour — Thursday, September 6 at 4:30pm
Part of what makes Pixelatl so enjoyable and unique is the networking events, which range from mezcal tastings to Mexican cooking classes. In the spirit(s) of celebration, Toon Boom Animation will be hosting a Harmony Happy Hour. This is an incredible opportunity to connect and cheers with true influencers from the global animation industry via the software developer’s commitment to building a self-sustaining animation ecosystem. (Plus, nothing facilitates collaboration and creation quite like a free drink.)
Crafting Coco with Lee Unkrich — Thursday, September 6 at 8:00pm
Lee Unkrich directed the Academy Award-winning Pixar feature, Coco — the first major animated film to depict Mexican culture, having been centred on the Day of the Dead national holiday. At Pixelatl Festival 2018, he will giving attendees the behind-the-scenes scoop on how he overcame technical and cultural barriers to bring his vision to life (or, death as the case may be).
Ideatoons Summit 2018 — Wednesday, September 5 from 12:00pm to 4:00pm
As mentioned earlier, Ideatoons is Pixelatl Festival’s concurrent pitching program. With a mission of supporting young and entrepreneurial Mexican animators, “Cartoon Brew” Amid Amidi has noted a massive increase in quality since its first edition in 2014. Broadcasters have taken notice too; Alan Ituriel’s Villainous was discovered at Ideatoons and is now being produced by Cartoon Network Latin America — its first-ever short-form animation commissioned from Mexico. If you are at Pixelatl 2018, be sure to catch the 11 Ideatoons finalists.
Toon Boom Harmony Live Demo — Thursday, September 6 at 3:30pm
Want to discover why Toon Boom Harmony is the industry standard animation software? See it in action firsthand from Mexican brand ambassador Alejandra Wiechers. She will be giving a live demo of Toon Boom Harmony, showing how the tool can make animators’ work simpler — and more successful. This will be followed by a Q&A.
Source: Frida Moran.
Til Death — Official short film selection
See and support the next generation of Mexican Toon Boom animators. Til Death is a short film in official selection at Pixelatl Festival 2018. It was produced entirely in Toon Boom Harmony by director Frida Moran*, a student at SAE Institute Mexico — a Toon Boom Centre of Excellence. It follows the Devil who, bored as Hell, decides to go partying in a small town. Naturally, things don’t go exactly to plan.
*Additional animation support: David Rafael, Carlos Mora, Ana Lopez, Fernando Gutiérrez, Daniela Salas, Diego Hope and Daniel Campos
Cartoon Network’s Girl Power: Pitch Me the Future — Winner announced September 08
An inaugural pitch program is being led by Cartoon Network Latin America, aimed at female creators in the region. Of the 289 original series ideas submitted, 10 finalists have now been chosen. These lucky ladies will have the opportunity to pitch to Cartoon Network executives. The winner will develop their pilot with the broadcaster’s creative support, plus receive an $11,000 budget. Their work will also be screened across Cartoon Network’s channels and web platforms.
What are you most excited for at Pixelatl Festival 2018? Let us know in the comments below!
Banner image source: Frida Moran.