***This article originally appeared in the Sept./Oct. ’22 issue of Animation Magazine (No. 323)***
There is no better way to kick off your animation career in gear this month than visiting the 2022 edition of the Pixelatel festival, which is set to take place September 6-10 in its new location, the glorious city of Guadalajara. We were lucky enough to catch up with the event’s charming and dedicated director, José Iñesta to get the full picture of what’s in store for attendees.
Congrats on putting together another fantastic edition. Can you tell us a little bit about what to expect this year?
José Iñesta: We are super excited that after two years of online events we will be able to meet in person in Guadalajara, Mexico. I’m also thrilled about the response of the international community that is participating in our event and also the support of the Latin American studios that are coming. This is our 11th edition, and we have Argentina as our country of honor and we will have several activities to showcase the amazing animation that they have done in the past.
The theme that we picked for this edition is also very uplifting, since we want to emphasize the importance of seeing ourselves through another’s gaze. That’s the reason, our mantra for this year is that if you come to Pixelatl, you can find yourself through other people coming as well (Aquí Te Encuentras!)
Our creative partner for this year is Mighty Animation, who did the art and our Festival trailer, and they are celebrating their 10th anniversary — so Pixelatl will have plenty of celebrations this year.
Why did you find a new location for the popular event?
Since we started Pixelatl, a lot of the participants in our festival were from Guadalajara, so it was a natural decision to move the event where our audience was. Also, I have to mention that the state government of Jalisco and the towns of Guadalajara and Zapopan are supporting heavily the audiovisual industry with several programs for infrastructure, equipment, training, content development, and other investments that support the local talent. That’s the reason that most of the most prestigious animation studios from Mexico are in these cities: Mighty, Demente, Aska Animation, Mister Machin, Exodo, Taller de Chucho, Mako, Amber, Polar, 1 Simple Idea, Hikuri, etc.
I don’t have to mention that Guadalajara is also home to the oldest and more important film festival from the country: The Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara. So really, it was a natural decision to pick the place where we want to continue to support the Latin American Animation Industry which is our main objective.
What are the big points of focus of the festival this year?
The main focus of our festival this year is that we are getting back together. We have a lot of important screenings like the Best of Annecy, Unicorn Wars, Valentina, etc. We also have a program from Argentina, and our official selection has the best animation from the world and from new voices (students and Mexican films that sometimes don’t make it to international festivals).
Regarding the talks and panels, we have very valuable content from Animation from Spain because with their tax incentives and amazing team of creatives, they are producing a lot of high quality animation for the world. We will showcase studios to partner with for co-productions and also new talents that are starting to emerge. Also, we have a conference with Sergio Jiménez, the producer from Academy Award-winning The Windshield Wiper.
Our Exhibition space will be filled with new artists from the editorial world and video game industry. Also a lot of schools will promote their programs and we will have a lot of recruiting and portfolio reviews that are very important for the students participating.
Another big surprise this year is that we will have an exhibition of the puppets of Frankelda (HBO Max) from the Ambriz Brothers and the audience will have the chance to see the puppets, backgrounds, and other materials that were used in the series’ original production.
Can you tell us a bit about the great animation guests you have at Pixelatl this year?
This is a tough question… Where to start? We have amazing headliners like Dana Terrace (The Owl House), Matt Braly (Amphibia), Sofia Alexander (Onyx Equinox), Carlos Lopez Estrada (Raya and the Last Dragon), Dédouze and a lot of Latin American creators and showrunners like the Ambriz Brothers (Frankelda), Alfredo Soderguit (Dos Pajaritos), among over 150 artists from 22 countries that will participate in talks, networking events, screening etc. This year, our lifetime achievement award goes to Georgina Haynes for her amazing work as puppet master in a lot of stop-motion animation projects, including Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinnochio.
How do you think the festival has grown and evolved over the years?
Talking about evolution, I feel the festival is always evolving. This year we have new sections, because we are always listening to what the community wants. This year we created a program where speakers send us their topic or research and we will provide the space where they can share it with the community. I’m super excited to see the students talk about their projects and also the winners of previous years in our comic or video game calls to share with the community their journey and where they are currently.
What is your take on the animation industry in Mexico today and what do you predict for the business in 2023?
The service business will continue to grow. What I feel is a current challenge is the consolidation of international channels and platforms and their cutting costs initiatives are hurting the content creators. Consolidation always hurts diversity and at the same time it hurts the audience. We don’t need more sequels, even if they make business sense, we need new characters, stories and creators that can share their world’s point of view. I’m happy that the studios make money with sequels, but they also should invest in new creators, new stories, and new IPs. We are living in a new world after COVID, therefore we need new content that reflects this new environment that we are living in.
Your favorite part of the festival? Why do you think everyone should attend this year?
My favorite part of the festival is the Cafe con activities in the mornings and the “Happy Hours” with studios in the afternoon because I feel it is the perfect opportunity to ask personal questions to our guests in a more relaxed environment. Also, they are the activities where you feel part of the community, where there is no boundary between a famous show creator and an aspiring young animator.
Also, this year I’m looking forward to the video game showroom because we will be able to see the new content coming from the Latin studios that we couldn’t play with in the previous two years. Interacting with new IPs is always thrilling. Also, all the activities that will happen in Casa del Autor in Zapopan have me thrilled all these days. We will have workshops, 24-hour comic jams, and other fun activities for illustrators and comic book artists.
I just hope everybody has a great time for being part of this amazing community and that they feel supported by us and by the international community that is coming to share their knowledge and experience with us!
Pixelatl Festival takes place September 6-10 in Guadalajara. Learn more and register to attend at pixelatl.com.