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By Sergio Mejía. Images: DISNEY At the end of this month of November will take place the international premiere of Encanto,which will be the 60th animated film of Walt Disney Animation Studios, perhaps the most important and recognized animation studio worldwide, but the important detail is that it will be its first film set entirely in Colombia.   It is evident how for several years now, the entertainment industry made in Hollywood,has turned its gaze towards Latin America, initially seeking to capture the enormous potential at the audience level that we have, but above all because it has found in our stories and our culture a powerful source of inspiration to build emotional and successful stories. The animation industry has also followed the same line, the example of Coco (Pixar-Disney),and its predecessor The Book of life (The 20th Century Fox),are recent examples of prestigious animated films, loaded with Latin American cultural symbology, which evoke recognizable values, idiosyncrasies, rites and customs. It is even more suggestive that one of the most important streaming and VOD platforms such as Netflix has opted for the construction of Maya and The Three,an animated series, built and set entirely in a magical and pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.   Completing this striking trend we find Encanto,a film that tells the story of an extraordinary family, called the Madrigals, who live in the mountains of Colombia, in a magical house, in the middle of a vibrant, wonderful and charming town called Encanto. The film, which will be released in the United States precisely on Thanksgiving day,additionally represents a very high stake for the North American market, as it seeks to reconnect with families and bring them back to theaters in this post-pandemic era. This is not a minor fact, because it is well known that the premieres of the great Hollywood films are rigorously studied and very well calculated, looking for a box office success and worldwide visibility.   Images: DISNEY The really interesting thing about this whole panorama is that Encanto is an excellent example of how for the entertainment industry and the world animation industry, our Colombian culture represents an attractive, valid and very interesting commercial potential. To go a little further… Our customs, our idiosyncrasies, our geography, have managed to impact enough to bet on building an animated history around it.   Perhaps not everyone knows it, but an animated film, with a very high economic, technical and human talent investment, such as that which can be handled by a studio like Disney, takes no less than two years to produce, a fairly long time for a film. It is also worth mentioning that on the table of important producers there will always be a list of attractive stories to carry out, but only one story is the one chosen to embark on the adventure of making an animated film, and although each film that is made anywhere in the world is a coin in the air, Hollywood and Disney, in this case, have a whole infrastructure that analyzes in detail each decision, which helps the bets made, have an aesthetic and commercial coherence that guarantees that that coin in the air falls on the right side. Consequently, the decision to produce Encanto,surely had a lot of support.    Now, it may happen that Encanto dazzles with all its aesthetic, technical, visual and even musical virtues, but it may be that for some others, its proposal is alien, full of common places, wrong interpretations of our traditions, unnecessary exaggerations or unsatisfactory representations of the coffee culture, which would make all the sense in the world because it is an external vision of our reality, an international perspective in all accounts.    What is really significant is that in the eyes of the world, our culture is highly attractive! García Marquez already internationalized part of this culture and turned it into a genre, the magic on which the characters of Encanto are built, is part of this literary heritage (nor is that direct allusion to the yellow butterflies that appear in the trailer free). Our customs, our stories and our geography are undoubtedly a source of inspiration to build fantastic worlds.   For those of us who work in animation and have opted these years to build our own stories, the premiere of Encanto is a unique event, which serves as an excuse to understand in the first place, that animation is an extraordinary vehicle to tell stories, to resignify and offer a unique, colorful and even magical look at our reality. Secondly, regardless of the success that this film may have, its very existence serves as a pretext to understand that our stories can have a relevant media and commercial impact on the entertainment industry, so it is necessary to reflect on the importance of betting on telling our own stories, capitalize on that cultural heritage so rich and so ours, and by the way, build memory. Finally, it is undeniable the impact that a film, and especially animation, can have on our children; possibly for them, Encanto will become a reference and a source of inspiration, as were for us those films that conquered our heart and our memory. In this way and thanks to an initiative such as the one offered by Disney,we have a new opportunity to take advantage of the potential offered by the reality of our country, and take advantage of it as creators and producers of content.   Images: DISNEY I did not want to miss the fact, no less important, and that is that recent animated productions of a commercial nature are building their narratives from powerful and complex female characters: Raya and the Last Dragon, Maya and The Three, Moana, Frozen, Judy Hopps (Zootopia) and even Encanto, which develops its story from Mirabel, a female character who, unlike all her relatives, does not possess magical powers, but thanks to this, she is destined to save her family and her territory. While the female characters in animation films are not at all new (Snow White 1937, the Little Mermaid 1989, Pocahontas 1995, to name a few), if the role and approach that these new protagonists have on the development of the plot is novel: Participatory, empowered and definitive… We are facing the new journeys of the heroine,as Yolanda Barrasa, a great colleague, playwright and screenwriter, would define it.

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