Colombian animation shines at the Annecy Animation Film Festival

Having already surpassed its pre-pandemic highs, the massive attendance at this year’s Annecy edition is indicative of the thriving post-pandemic boom that the entire audiovisual industry is feeling.

In this promising landscape, Colombian animation imposed itself in the Official Selection of Annecy and on its MIFA market alongside an event presented by BAM – the Bogotá Audiovisual Market – where five projects targeting 3-11 year olds been pitched.

Colombia’s presence is the result of the exponential growth of the animation sector, which in 2019 exported projects valued at $100,000 to the world and closed 2021 with this figure at $3.5 million. .

The reasons for exponential growth fall into several ways; Colombia’s tax relief; a growing generation of artists with a firm grasp on the technical aspects of animation’s pipeline structure; and the ever-growing presence of international companies.

Launched in 2003, but expanded since then, Colombia’s film incentives have made the country a model for Latin America. In particular the CINA – Certificado de Inversión Audiovisual – which offers a 35% discount on the investment made by an international production. Since its creation in 2020, CINA has already supported a grand total of 57 projects and 35 productions for a total of 92 projects. While maintaining these discounts has often been an uphill battle for Colombian filmmakers, the growing presence of platforms – Prime Video, Apple TV, Discovery Plus, Starzplay, Netflix – among others has proven the international appeal and strategic strength of incentives.

Although stylistically very different from each other, all the projects presented at the Colombian Animation event shared a much more refined technical approach and a style that had a clear voice and identity while channeling multiple international referents.

These two achievements speak volumes about the rapid evolution of the sector for a country which, in recent decades, had produced a limited number of animated feature films. One film, “Chocó: Earth and Monsters”, directed by Estefanía Pineres, stood out among a series of different formats such as “Animétricas”, “Tales of Villa Pio” and “En La Diestra de Dios Padre”. The feature film showed what titles like “Tropical Virus” and “Len and the Song of Wales” had shown before: a search for an audiovisual identity rooted in the country’s own aesthetic.

The same thing happened with the films in competition, mostly short films produced by relatively new productions, many of them in co-production with other Latin American countries. Carlos Velandia appeared twice directing “La Mujer Como Imagen” which screened at Short Films Off Limits and, in co-directing with María Angélica Restrepo Gúzman, with “Todas mis Cicatrices se Desvanecen en el Viento”.

The arrival of big players has created a much more complex influx than expected. What was once feared as ushering in industry monopoly has turned out to be, instead, a rewarding ecosystem where small, independent businesses have a chance to grow at a faster rate and build an experienced team that handles international premium content.

Some 55 projects from more than 12 different countries in Europe, America and Asia are currently in post-production in Colombia. This underscores the fact that growth is not solely driven by the search for intellectual property, but by a more mature services market that has seen steady expansion, with now more than 30 companies in the sector.

At MIFA, many Colombian productions have demonstrated in their work the flourishing of this ecosystem. Among them were ASIFA Colombia, Bombillo Amarillo, BIOTA Studios, 3DADOS Media, Cacumen Creative Studio, El Tuerto Pictures, Artistes Folks Colombia, Perrenque Media, Signos Studios and Team Toon Studio.

Camilo Martínez, director of ProColombia France, underlined: “As more and more companies are opening branches in Colombia, the animation sector is getting stronger and in turn ensuring a more international presence.”

He continued: “Our relatively small teams have proven their ability to remain competitive both in terms of production quality and market price when compared to larger teams, while simultaneously benefiting from greater flexibility in the work process.”

Darcy J. Skinner