Woo Films Boards Cinema Fantasma Stop-Motion Animation Pics (EXCLUSIVE)

Mexico’s Woo Films is venturing into the kids/younger audience content biz for the first time, boarding three stop-motion animated features by Mexico City-based Cinema Fantasma, led by brothers Roy and Arturo Ambriz.

Producer Andrea Toca who brought the projects to Woo Films, said: “We’ve always wanted to make content for children and younger audiences.”

“I went to University with the Ambriz brothers so that’s where we first connected. We were very impressed by the working techniques they have developed in their workshop aside from their stories,” she added.

The initial pact is for Woo Films to co-produce Cinema Fantasma’s “Frankelda and The Prince of Spooks,” being presented at Annecy’s work in progress (WIP) section as well as two other stop-motion pics in development, “The Ballad of the Phoenix,” pitched last year at Annecy, and “The Bee Revolution.” 

“Frankelda and The Prince of Spooks” is a spin-off of Cinema Fantasma’s ground-breaking series, “Frankelda’s Book of Spooks,” sold to HBO Max Latin America, which with a total running time of 70 minutes was the longest running stop-motion project made in Mexico.  

Unsurprisingly, Cinema Fantasma got their first break with Guillermo del Toro who mentored and co-financed their first medium-length stop-motion film, “Revoltoso” (Rebellious).

The titular Frankelda is a Mexican horror writer from the 19th Century who travels to a kingdom where all the characters in her stories thrive, led by Herneval, the winged Prince of Spooks. There she sets out to restore the equilibrium between the realms of fiction and reality.

“The Ballad of the Phoenix” touts Gael García Bernal as the lead voice actor and production designer Bruce Zick, whose credits include such acclaimed classics as “The Lion King,” “Pocahontas” and “Wall-E,” designing its sets.

Story centers on Virian, a goblin princess, who after realizing her dying father is a tyrant, must decide whether she should use her singular powers to brew the elixir of eternal life and save his life or spare the kingdom from his brutal repression.

Marta Hernaiz’s Cine Vendaval is also a co-producer of “Ballad.” A longtime partner and collaborator of Cinema Fantasma, Cine Vendaval also produced the series “Frankelda’s Book of Spooks.”

The project was named Best Animation Feature Film in development at the 2018 Pixelatl festival and won an Annecy Award at Ventana Sur that same year in Buenos Aires.

Coming-of-age tale, “The Bee Revolution,” centers on aspiring teen musician Kaab who dreams of becoming a mega pop star but her less privileged pal Poboldo wants to form a band while Kaab wants to be a solo artist. Struggling to write the perfect song for a contest, she steals a song by Poboldo, winning the contest but losing her best friend forever. 

Woo Films’ Toca, Rafael Ley and Monica Vertiz are among the producers on the films. One of Mexico’s powerhouse production shingles, Woo Films has produced a slew of award-winning films and TV shows, such as “The Good Girls” (“Las Niñas Bien”), “Los Adioses” and hit series “La Casa de las Flores” by Manolo Caro.

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