‘Cerulia’ Director Sofia Carrillo, ‘Roma’ Producer Nicolas Celis Team on ‘Insectario’ (EXCLUSIVE)

ANNECY —  In major news for Mexican animation as it comes under the spotlight at Annecy, director Sofia Carrillo (“The Sad House,” “Cerulia”) is teaming with “Roma” producer Nicolas Celis and  ‘Dance of the 41’ writer Monika Revilla to make “Insectario,” which bids fair to become one of the first stop motion features from Mexico.

Targeting family audiences, and written by Revilla, “Insectario” is set up at Celis’ Pimienta Films. 

Carrillo, who worked on the Mexican second unit on “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,” based out of Guadalajara’s El Taller del Chucho, told Variety that “Insectario” will build on the same aesthetic universe of “Cerulia” using the same puppets and sometimes the same sets. 

“To a certain extent, ‘Insectario’ is a prolongation of the world of ‘Cerulia,’ but with an independent story which stands by itself,” she said.

In “Cerulia,” Carrillo’s crowning triumph which made her one of the most sought-after directors in Mexico, a little girl plays in her grandparents’ house, then revisits it years later when they are deceased and the house is up for sale. 

Returning, her childhood memories are still literally alive in the house, part of a world of animals and pets which is dying out in urban existence, as the short recounts in the case of the girl’s family, gaining a larger bigger-world resonance, rising to a new thought-provoking level.

“Insectario,” Carrillo said, asks as its premise: What would happen if all the insects in the world come to life? It tells the story of an entomologist’s assistant who must free all the insects in the world  which are trapped in an insectarium.

“This film is somehow an homage to Wladyslaw Starewicz, one of the founding fathers of stop motion,” said Carrillo. “More than a century has gone by since Starewicz’s 1912 short ‘The Cameraman’s Vengeance.’ Nowadays, insects are disappearing at a vertiginous rate, giving the act of reanimating them another layer of meaning,” she added, noting that the word “insectarium” means a collection of insects which may be dead or alive: “Our film unfolds in the ambiguity of the term, in the land of animation.” 

Revilla’s interest in “Insectario,” shared by Carrillo, is “to talk about insects from the point of view of nostalgia, of how they are disappearing,” she said.

“I remember my childhood was full of insects. At school, we tried to rescue catalinas, because they brought good luck; monarch butterflies would come to my garden on their migration. Now insects have disappeared from my life,” added Revilla whose writing credits also take in episodes of “The House of Flowers” and “Someone Has to Die.”    

“Insectario” has a classic narrative three-act structure but is “also a subversive genre blender, part heist movie, part dystopia-set tale, as well as incorporating Sofía’s nostalgic aesthetics and sense of subconscious fears,” Revilla added. 

“I have wanted for years to work with Sofia and it is so exciting to bring together the expertise of all three of us to make a film which is highly powerful, high quality and for a global audience,” said Celis. “I sense that this film will position Sofía as the quality of her work merits and she will have the freedom to do what she wants,” he added.

“It’s so moving to work with Monika and Nico. They are brilliant and I’m blown away by how positive they are about my work,” said Carrillo.

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