Cinema Chile

Chilean animation captivates the whole world. 5 milestones that mark its history.

March 27, 2022

Chilean animation continues to amaze the entire world. After a successful tour of film festivals and several awards along the way -including the award for Best Short Film at the Annie Awards, considered one of the most important competitions of the genre-, Beast becomes the fifth film in the history of Chile to achieve the feat of being part of the nominees for the Academy Awards.

In this way, the short film directed by Hugo Covarrubias, is very close to becoming the third film and the second Chilean animation to win an Oscar, after the success of Bear Story (2016). 

We know that this journey has not been easy and the work done by the creators of the animated films in Chile is monumental. For this reason, we wanted to jump on Beast’s journey to visit our film history, reviewing where we came from to assess the place we have reached today. We present the 5 steps -or 5 great milestones- in the history of Chilean animation.



First animated experiences

Last year, the first Chilean animation celebrated its 100th anniversary. On July 25, 1921, La transmisión del mando presidencial (Alfredo Serey and Nicolás Martínez Esquerro) was premiered, and it shows the coming to power of President Arturo Alessandri Palma. Sadly, today only 4 of the 23,400 drawings that gave life to the work are preserved.

Three years later, Vida y milagros de Don Fausto (1924, Carlos Borcosque and Carlos Escudero) premiered, inspired by the American comic book author, George Macmanus. 

The story resumes more than two decades later with 15 mil dibujos (1942, Carlos Trupp and Jaime Escudero), a film inspired by the Disney Factory and transformed into a reference for the creation of the iconic comic book Condorito

In the 1960s, a generation of animators emerged who worked for television. Among these, Eduardo Ojeda stands out, who makes the extraordinary animated documentary Pintores Chilenos (1975).


The Pioneers of a future generation

The end of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s bears the mark of the work of two talented directors, Vivienne Barry and Tomás Welss, who became leaders and mentors of the promising generation of animators that emerged during the new millennium. 

Vivienne Barry is without a doubt a pioneer of Chilean animation. During the 1970s she settled in Germany and studied at the famous Trickfilm Studio, where she made her first short films with the stop-motion technique. When she returned to Chile, she was the only one who knew this technique. Her works include Tata Colores (1991), La salsa (1999) and Ene tene tú (2006), as well as the feature film Atrapados en Japón (Visions du Réel, 2015).  

Tomás Welss, also trained in Germany, is a leader in experimental animation worldwide. His works, made from surrealist drawings and paintings, have been exhibited in Toulouse, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Biarritz, Los Angeles, among many others. His expansive filmography includes the short films El Paraguas (1986), Noche (1997), Pasta (2006) and Magic Dream (2018). 

In 2004, he received the award: Ciudad de Huesca, from the Huesca Film Festival, along with the publication of an anthological book: Tomas Welss, a provocative artist.

The turn of the millennium starts a new era 

The turn of the millennium in Chilean animation is marked by the premiere of Ogú and Mampato in Rapa Nui (Alejandro Rojas, 2002), the first animated feature film in the history of national cinema. The film, which today is known as a classic, was the most watched Chilean film of the year.

The new digital technologies gave impulse to a wave of works that innovated with various techniques and topics. Many of these were broadcasted on television. 

Villa Dulce (2004) and Clarita (2004) were the first animated series made in Chile and motivated the production of two unforgettable series. These were Diego and Glot (2005), which mixed traditional animation with national pop culture characters, and Pulentos (2005), 3D animation that follows a gang of young hip-hop fans. 

These series, for children and in open television, gave way to new hits such as Zumbástico Fantástico (2011, on TVN, Cartoon Network and TV Educa Chile), Paper Port (2015, on Discovery Kids for Latin America and countries such as England and Turkey), Petit (2018, nominated for the Emmy Awards 2021) Guitar and Drum (2019, on Disney Junior Latin America) and Zander (2020, NTV).

Ogú y Mampato en Rapa Nui


The Oscar goes to Chile!

2016 is a turning point in the history of Chilean cinema. Bear Story marked an unprecedented milestone as it was the first Chilean production and the first Latin American animation to win an Academy Award

The short film, with a technical and artistic quality that surprised audiences worldwide, is inspired by the story of the grandfather of Gabriel Osorio, director of the short film, who was exiled by Pinochet’s dictatorship. Thus, the film is a metaphor of what political prisoners and disappeared ones lived during that time.

“We are happy to be here representing our entire region and happy to be telling our story,’ Osorio said at the press conference after receiving the statuette. 

And is that their triumph evidences the great effort and growth that the industry has had in the country in recent years. On the one hand, national universities begin to teach the career of Digital Animation. On the other hand, in 2010 the Chilean Animation Association (ANIMACHI) was established. Also, the Chilemonos foundation was created, which organizes several initiatives to promote the sector.

Gabriel Osorio (director), and Pato Escala (producer) of “Bear Story”

Beast and an innovative future

The path to the Oscars for Beast has made history again for the national animation, and this March 27, the short film has the possibility of becoming the second Chilean animation to obtain an Academy Award.

In addition to this great milestone, 2021 made it clear that we are facing a new generation of Chilean animators. Authors who explore new formats, mixing analog and digital techniques, combining genres such as documentary and fiction, the infancy with terror, the real and the surreal.

This new generation is made up by the production company Diluvio, with directors Cristóbal León, Joaquín Cociña and Niles Atallah (Luís and Lucía, Rey, La casa lobo and Los huesos), directors Fernanda Frick (Here’s the Plan) and Camila Donoso (Inhabited), and filmmakers Germán Acuña (Nahuel and the magic book), Samuel Restucci and Emilio Romero (The Happy Version of Eden),  are some of the talents that have shone in recent times.

The animated films produced in Chile have not stopped innovating in their aesthetic and narrative resources, daring to explore the hybridization of genres and formats, giving rise to original stories with points of view characterized by their critical and reflective regard. Without a doubt, we are in front of talented creators, who leave us eager to know what the next works will be. Join us and discover how this story continues!