Ventana Sur’s esteemed Animation! and Blood Window forums are teaming to present a fresh competition strand, Fantasmática. Aimed at creating an industry-wide synergy between animation and genre cinema that centers short film projects in development, the initiative kicks off at this year’s Buenos Aires Ventana Sur market, held Nov. 27- Dec.1 in the bustling Puerto Madero district.
“The incorporation of Fantasmática constitutes an exciting step that allows us to complete a project we’ve been developing collaboratively for some time,” Animation! manager Silvina Cornillón told Variety.
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“The union of two sections with a trajectory like Animation! and Blood Window creates a space where animation and fantasy genre film professionals can collaborate and share ideas. We trust that this interdisciplinary collaboration will give rise to new techniques and creative approaches, which will enrich the field of animation and fantasy genre cinema in addition to generating diversification of the content available in Ventana Sur.”
“We’ve been thinking about adding a space where both sections co-exist for some time. We believe that in times of TikTok, there’s a growing interest in short-term content that can be echoed by independent platforms or sales agents, who, in turn, seek to differentiate themselves with their catalogs,” added Javier Fernández, head of Blood Window.
He noted that, the success of series such as “Love, Death & Robots,” “Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre” and the Latin American series “Fantasmagoria,” released on HBO, creates an ideal setting for Fantasmatica.”
All-in, there were 70 submissions from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic and Uruguay. Final selections dig into fantasy, sci-fi, horror and the supernatural while representing Colombia, Argentina and Chile.
Esteban Pérez Ojeda’s “Pájaro Negro,” comes from Chile’s award-winning production company Quijote Films, which saw its co-production “The Settlers” world premiere in Cannes Un Certain Regard before being selected as Chile’s Academy Award ent5ry.ñ
Colombian creative Miguel Otálora, a “Rick and Morty” alum, presents socially-charged “Entreverao,” while animation and VFX artist Milton Cruz brings his brutalist sci-fi short “A-347” to market. Nascent directors and production companies also show promise, with revenge and justice a common theme.
“We’ve received registrations from new filmmakers and companies in Ventana Sur who hadn’t been participating in our sections. Without a doubt, the short format attracted this profile of professionals. The trends observed during the selection process indicate a diversity of themes and styles,” Cornillón and Fernández relayed.
“They highlight projects in which fantastical elements have been used as metaphors to explore contemporary social and political issues,” they added. “Several projects focus on supernatural, mythological, and mystical themes rooted in Latin American cultures. Others include strong visual innovation, given by the use of tools such as video game engines.”
“From the beginning we wanted the program to be formed with projects that can express different styles, animation techniques and that encompass the fantasy genre in its entirety. Animation allows for unique and creative visual expression and along with its focus on the fantasy genre, creates impactful and memorable visual experiences,” Cornillón and Fernández remarked.
“The selected short films tell stories that reflect cultural diversity and emotional depth, which together with the visual innovation they offer makes them universally attractive to audiences around the world, offering an enriching cinematic experience,” they added.
Along with a schedule of conferences, presentations and workshops alongside industry vets, the six projects are pitched to those in attendance, their teams offered prime networking opportunities. After an esteemed jury chooses the winners, the selection moves on to the 2024 Weird Animation, Video Games & New Media Market in Spain, where accreditation and maintenance fees for a representative are provided.
A recognition grant will also be awarded by Mexico’s Cine Qua Non Lab, ensuring the project an advisory meeting led by industry specialists from the Mexican script laboratory. Winners will be announced during the Ventana Sur awards ceremony on Dec. 1.
With genre and animation soaring, the strand arrives just in time to highlight standout and up-and-coming Latin American talents.
“Fantasy genre productions in the region have been growing in quantity and quality. More and more production companies are daring to develop horror, science fiction or fantasy films. We think that it’s largely due to the possibilities offered by technological advances for the production of animation and visual effects and the need for Latin American filmmakers and scriptwriters to relay their problems, fears and projections of the future through fantastic fables and urban legends,” concluded Cornillón and Fernández.
A Breakdown of the Inaugural Fantasmatica Lineup:
“Entreverao,” (“The Uncle’s Song”) (Miguel Otálora, Colombia)
Nicolás works in an illegal mine and, after an eruptive explosion, comes face-to-face with a demon who protects the miners. During the mysterious encounter, the entity grants Nicolás expert musical skills. He uses his new talent to coax the townspeople into dancing until exhausted and winds up at the mayor’s home, where he’ll play the “ultimate song of vengeance,” according to the synopsis.
Directed by Otálora (“Las Crónicas Elefantiles”), who was an animation supervisor for “Rick and Morty” and “Solar Opposites,” the project utilizes a vibrant 2D digital technique to explore exploitation and illegal mining practices by way of Andean folklore. Produced by Julián Sánchez at Colombia’s Dinamita Animación, the narrative’s aimed toward YA and adult audiences.
“A-347,” (Milton Cruz, Colombia)
A-347 labors away in his drab office space, taking on tiresome tasks that encourage him to follow two rules: Don’t stop and don’t fold the punch cards. In a rebellious act against monotony, he begins creating origami figures out of the cards, triggering the system to close his cubicle around him. The act of defiance eventually forces him to choose between obedience and liberation.
Cruz, who lent his skills as an animator and VFX artist to Sony’s “Los Elegidos,” credits narrative inspiration from George Orwell’s “1984” and Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451,” taking visual cues from the likes of Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” and Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil.” The 2D technique combines elements of obsolete tech and a Soviet Brutalist aesthetic. “A-347” is produced by Colombia’s ZoomVD and Camilo Cadena.
“Espirales,” (“Spirals”) (Florentina Gonzalez, Argentina)
A not so distant future sees a group of friends suffering from an epidemic degenerative disease deemed Sugar Bones, caused by malnutrition. On the road toward a final vacation intact, they’re involved in a car accident that leaves them in pieces at an abandoned campsite, struggling to stave off hungry insects that threaten to destroy them.
“Espirales” uses 2D Animation to bring its characters to life, with hints at incorporating rotoscope and 3D. Gonzalez previously created the short “El After Del Mundo,” which secured Zagreb’s Special Jury Award and toured the festival circuit, screening at Sitges and Clermont Ferrand.
“Hollow Flowers,” (Daniel Yepes, Argentina)
Troubled adolescent Kei wakes up to find that she’s the last person on earth and sets out to save her town from shadows that lurk overhead that threaten to destroy it. A psychological multiverse finds her traveling through her dreams and memories and teaming with unconventional allies to confront a trauma from her past at the root of it all.
Produced by Ruido Amigo, the project mixes 2D, 3D and stop motion animation techniques. Yepes, an indie musician who works as an animator of cinematics for Triple A video games, seeks to elevate the narrative with a curated soundtrack. The teaser for his in-production project “Flores Huecas” won the Unreal Engine Real-Time Short Film Challenge, a call organized by the Guadalajara International Film Festival (FICG) and Epic Games.
“Pájaro Negro,” (“Black Bird”) (Esteban Pérez Ojeda, Chile)
The narrative is set up in 1870 on the mystifying Chilean southern isle of Chiloé where Gracia, desperate after the illness and death of her husband, turns to a local warlock to reverse his fate. The vengeful plot backfires and she’s roiled into a turn of events that destroys everything she holds dear.
Written by Mauricio Corco (“Yun”) and produced by Chilean outfit Quijote Films, the black and white project utilizes an analog frame-by-frame technique, using a 1990s Japanese animation style to craft the moody world. Oils, temperas and charcoals will mingle to create a distinctive depiction of Southern Chile. Pérez’s 2019 short “Hijo Del Trauko” was included in the ChileShorts collection of the Cannes Short Film Corner.
“El Rey De Los Conejos,” (“The King of the Rabbits”) (Tomas González Montalvo, Argentina, Chile)
Found dead in the street, Richard is transported to the local morgue where he suddenly awakes and is rushed to a dilapidated medical clinic. His case is investigated by a vegan prosecutor, who raids his property and finds a bevy of domestic animals he’d adopted to serve as sustenance. Horrified, she embarks on a journey to halt his behavior. The story boils over into another dimension as Richard realizes he’s been granted eternal life and regales his friends and lovers with the story of his success. The original concept promises to be pliable, with the possibility to roll out into a true crime anthology series, each instalment drawing from the cases of serial killers.
Live action mingles with animation in the psychologically-tinged fantasy produced by Montalvo’s budding production company Timemirror in association with Santiago Riquelme (“Golem”) at Chile’s Mazmorra Animation Studio. Montalvo previously produced Blood Window entry “The Inevitable” directed by Fercks Castellani and a 2020 Blood Window presentation that won the Sitges Pitchbox Award and streams on Amazon Prime.
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