Brazilian Animation: Art, Commerce and Government Backing

Variety | 6/12/2018 | John Hopewell
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ANNECY, France — The opening two minutes, 10 seconds of Gustavo Steinberg’s “Tito and the Birds,” which world premieres in competition Thursday at Annecy, is a powerful snapshot of the forces powering up exponential growth in Brazilian animation.

It is high art, caught in a series of impressionist as a dove flies away from a wall engraving in a primeval cavern, past an Mesopotamia building, a Roman statue and irrigation channel, Spanish galleons, a luxury liner, a city under bombardment. There’s a sweep to its urgent statement on contemporary issues. “This is a story of how fear contaminated the world,” but sense of an outreach to broader audiences in the energy of camera movement, the hint of a horror story to come. Meanwhile, logos of 11 Brazilian state-sector entities feature in the initial credit crawl.

Animation - Techniques - Styles - Approaches - Paths

“I see in Brazilian animation varied techniques, styles, approaches, completely different paths,” says Ale Abreu, director of Annecy’s top prize winner in 2014, “The Boy of the World.” He adds: “At this moment, if there is a common trait I would call diversity. The identity of Brazilian animation is a rich and creativity mixture, like Brazilians ourselves.”

But Brazilian animation, the subject of a country tribute at this year’s Annecy, has witnessed exponential growth. Ten years back, a small handful of stalwart directors were struggling to gain international notoriety and impact TV, festivals and box offices domestically and abroad with low budgets and a lot of hard work. Today, Brazilian animation is even outpacing live-action in budget and ambition. Since 1951 and Brazil’s first-ever animated feature, “Amazon Symphony,” Brazil has produced 44 features. According to Marta Machado of Brazilian animation house Otto Desenhos, 19 of those pictures have come in the last five years. Another 25 features are currently in production.

Features - Theaters

Eight Brazilian animated features hit cinema theaters last...
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