10 Mexican Animation Talents to Track, From Sofia Carrillo to the Ambriz Brothers 

The Annecy Festival’s tribute to Mexico as its 2023 guest county of honor brings over 250 artists and executives to the world’s biggest animation event. Here are 10 Talents to Track emerging directors and artists among an exploding animation scene. Variety could easily have chosen another 20 more.     

Sofia Alexander

Celebrated as the executive producer and creator of Crunchyroll’s first original series “Onyx Equinox,” the tale of a young Meso-American slave who becomes the last hope of saving humanity from invading gods of the underworld. On TV “I never saw Meso-American Indigenous Mexico without Spanish influence, and I wanted to connect with my roots,” says Alexander. The series is anime influenced, not just in its aesthetics – the painterly fields of Meso-America and the frenzied gory combat –  but also in its being serialization, pacing and broad audience target, including adults, she argues. A freelancer for Cartoon Network, Hasbro and Nickelodeon, but “Onyx Equinox” is her major achievement. JH

Arturo and Rodolfo Ambriz

Mexico City-based stop-motion specialists, the biggest in Mexico, and Annecy animation stars with Episode Four of 2019 milestone series “Frankelda’s Book of Spooks,” made for Cartoon Network Latin America and HBO Max, playing in the Mexico retrospective. They also present “Frankelda and the Prince of Spooks,” a movie spin-off, in Work in Progress. Also real film directors, moving the camera with verve on their stop-motion work, as they construct meta tales about the difficulties of creation, says Rodolfo Ambriz. Prolific, both titles form part of a far larger Cinema Fantasma slate, one title, feature “Ballad of the Phoenix,” being presented at Annecy last year. JH

The Awesombrosos: Sebastian and Diego Ramírez

Best known to date as character designers on “Frankelda’s Book of Spooks,” with work for Netflix, Nickelodeon, Disney and Sony yet to see the light of day. Also animation producers in their own right, behind Pixelatl’s Ideatoon 19 winner “Noisy Nomads.” “We’re identical twins, so we think no two people do the same thing, we’ve had to look for individuality,” says Diego. It tells. Their high-energy projects –  such as 3D comedy musical series “Noisy Nomads,” for which they’re making a teaser, and 3D feature “The Magic Market” –  burst with color and characters, while often inhabiting the same physical space, still doing their own thing. JH 

Calladitos: Ariadna Galaz and Jorge Peralta

Touting murals informed by their surroundings, towering characters serving as guardians over each global city they inhabit, Galaz and Peralta take on Annecy, teasing plans to turn their static illustrations into a dynamic animated series. Diving into the psyche with no dialogue (their moniker alludes to quiet), the project allows viewers to examine the mystical visuals in silence, and stands as a wholly unparalleled proposal. “Socially, we’re living in a total frenzy of noise. We want this space to be a space of silence, of meditation,  lending space to the internal dialogues we’re losing more and more,” they say. HJ

Sofia Carrillo

Part of the so-called stop motion Guadalajara School who broke out with 2012’s “Prita Noire,” winner of a Mexican Oscar, an Ariel, then directed two jewels, 2013’s “La Casa Triste,” an attempt to process a strong history of cancer in her family, and 2017’s “Cerulia,” in which a woman revisits her now abandoned grandparent’s home, reviving, near literally, its figures of a world now dead but not buried. A doyenne of quaint gothic and multi-layered thought-provoking films, now set to direct live action feature “Dead Man’s Secret” for The Latin House of Horror, with another project close to announcement. JH

Ana Cruz

An animation producer and co-founder in 2013 of Mexico City’s Casiopea Studio, a collective with Sandra Medina, Andrea Mondragón and Alexandra Castellanos, whose “Poliangular,” produced by Cruz, plays at Annecy’s Tribute to Mexican Animation program in its Sur-Realities: Poetic Imagery session. Accessible but experimental – “Poliangular” is a case in point –  and running a large gamut of techniques, Casiopea’s productions range from shorts to video clips, commercials, festival image campaigns, capsules, workshops and exhibitions. 

Now aiming to provide animation on more long features and looking to enter co-production, including on international projects, Cruz tells VarietyJH

Sandra Equihua

Working in close tandem with her partner Jorge Gutiérrez for the past 20 years, Equihua is a graphic designer, illustrator and character designer who has won an Emmy for the character design of their acclaimed animated series “El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera” and an Annie for her character design in their first animated film, “The Book of Life.” She was born in Tijuana, Mexico where she graduated from Ibero University with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design.  As Gutiérrez’s partner, muse and sounding board, she plays a vital part in the creation and execution of their projects. Their latest, “I, Chihuahua,” about a masked dog wrestler (luchador), is now in the works. AMDLF

Ana Ramírez González 

Raised in Mexico, Ramírez González moved to California to attend CalArts, studying animation. Landing with Pixar, she was a visual development artist on Disney-released triumph “Coco,” her ethereal illustrations further adorning  companion book “Coco: Miguel and the Grand Harmony.” Recent work takes in Peter Sohn’s “Elemental.” Currently developing a short while simultaneously cultivating storytelling and directing prowess, she “likes the idea of doing something a little darker, not having so many restrictions on what to create,”  and hopes to work collectively with other Latin artists in the future, delving deeper into the experimental cinematic styles that fascinate her. HJ

Alonso Ramírez Ramos

Having developed pilots for The Cartoon Network while boasting credits on “Gravity Falls,” Disney’s “Mickey Mouse Shorts” and “Steven Universe,” Ramírez Ramos cites close-knit peer networks and generous mentors for his buoyant, contagious enthusiasm for the Mexican animation scene. Having earned two Primetime Emmys and several Annie Awards, he strives to deliver fresh narratives with several unnamed projects in the pipeline. “The part that I’ve enjoyed the most is creating original ideas that aren’t tied to something we’ve seen before and bringing together people with diverse backgrounds to create, in an environment where we’re all thriving, being our authentic selves.” HJ

Karla Velazquez and Adrian Saldaña 

A visual development artist for DreamWorks, Velazquez will tease her first feature “Kolaval” at Annecy alongside creative partner Adrian Saldaña. After attending the Quirino Awards and a mentorship program for women creators through Ventana Sur, the pair realized the need to present a story “where women are the leaders, the strong ones, where we change the stigma that indigenous people need to be saved, show how they can take the lead.” With an unapologetic and bold approach and striking illustrating style, the duo are set to decimate homogeneity to represent the full spectrum of their Mexican heritage. HJ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *