In November 2021, LatinX in Animation (LXiA), a signature program under the Latino Film Institute (LFI), announced its first-ever LXiA Spark Animation Grant.
Sponsored by Netflix, this program is designed to uplift the presence of Latinx animation filmmakers, offering a game-changing grant of $10,000 towards the development and production of an animated short film. Additionally, LXiA Spark Grant Fellows receive a series of professional development sessions and will be paired with an individual mentor. For its inaugural year, LXiA has named two filmmakers to receive this prestigious grant: Cecilia De Jesus and Anthony Gallego.
Cecilia De Jesus is a Filipina/Mexican-American designer, animator and filmmaker based in Los Angeles, California. She has worked on several title sequences for film and television, including the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, Motherland, Phantom Thread and The Hate U Give. De Jesus currently is a motion graphics artist at Trailer Park Group, where she designs and animates trailers for film, television and social content. De Jesus also contributes her animation skills towards projects for non-profit organizations such as Feeding America, the LA Regional Food Bank and World Wildlife Foundation.
While her animated short Back to Normal, which explores themes of mental health during the pandemic, will be her own first short film, De Jesus has supported other independent filmmakers and their collective work has screened at Cannes Film Festival, Denver Film Festival and the LA Film Festival.
“For me, receiving the LXiA Spark Grant means a chance to bring a story to life that means a great deal to me and will hopefully help others. It also means I can be part of the effort to add more diverse voices to the world of animation,” says De Jesus.
A 2020 graduate from the School of Visual Arts in New York, Anthony “Ant” Gallego completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2D Animation. With a fresh early career that has spanned Transistor Studios, Studio Zmei and CBA Studios, Gallego has a passion for writing and producing horror movies. With the LXiA Spark Grant, Gallego is excited to launch his animated short, Yuri, which dives headlong into the subjects of death and self-grief.
“Receiving the LXiA Spark Grant means a great deal to me. It just is an indescribable feeling to receive recognition for your artistic efforts on this kind of scale,” says Gallego. “I’m beyond excited to see how people react to Yuri.”
LXiA Spark Fellows will have approximately 16 months to complete their animated short films. The shorts will also enjoy a special screening at LFI’s annual Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) in 2023. For its inaugural year, the LXiA Spark Animation Grant was awarded to individual Latinx filmmakers living and working in the United States.
LXiA’s Founder & Co-Director, Magdiela Hermida Duhamel, remarks, “The LXiA Spark Grant is specifically geared to making sure that our Fellows are set up for success. That’s why we have the mentoring and professional development series built into it. We want the LXiA Spark Grant to be truly formative to our Fellows’ careers.”
“Equity is at the center of our work,” adds Bryan Dimas, Co-Founder & Co-Director for LXiA. “We’re excited to see these projects come to life and what it means for investing in Latinx talent.”
Netflix’s support of the LXiA Spark Grant builds on their partnership with the Latino Film Institute, and is part of Netflix’s Fund for Creative Equity, an effort to create more behind-the- camera opportunities for underrepresented communities within the TV and film industries.