11 Portuguese Animation Talents to Track

Portugal is this year’s Country of Honor at the Annecy Animation Festival, so we’ve decided to take a close look at the current generation of artists who are helping to inspire a new era for the country’s animation sector and, increasingly, making waves abroad

Published Time: 09.06.2024 - 22:31:32 Modified Time: 09.06.2024 - 22:31:32

Portugal is this year’s Country of Honor at the Annecy Animation Festival, so we’ve decided to take a close look at the current generation of artists who are helping to inspire a new era for the country’s animation sector and, increasingly, making waves abroad.

Below is a list, in no particular order, of 11 exciting Portuguese animation talents to keep an eye on. Some have been around for several years and already started to put together impressive bodies of work, while others are just emerging on the scene.

Rodrigo Goulão De Sousa

The work of Gobelins-trained filmmaker Rodrigo Goulão De Sousa features a distinct 2D aesthetic and genre-heavy horror and thriller themes that regularly border on the unsettling. The combination makes his titles feel as contemporary thematically as they do aesthetically, expanding the ways that animation can be used to frighten audiences. De Sousa’s appearance on our list is well-timed, as Adult Swim is in the middle of posting a trio of his horror shorts on its official YouTube channel as part of its Adult Swim Smalls collection. Several of de Sousa’s films are available online. We suggest “Tales of Salt Water,” the “Playground” trailer, “Uncanny Alley 01 – The Screening” to get you started.

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Monica Santos

Santos’ 2022 short film “The Pink Jacket” is part of this year’s Annecy Portuguese spotlight, having previously been nominated for a Portuguese Film Academy Sophia Award. Blending playful music and stop-motion animation to tell a political story about a Pink Jacket that always has something up its sleeve. In the basement of its otherwise bright and pleasant home, Casaco Rosa uses couture and torture to political dissidents. Best known for “Between the Shadows” (see below), Santos is now working on two series, one live-action and the other a hybrid live-action/animation documentary about the history of mental health care in Portugal. Santos regularly works with fellow BAP Animation Studios colleague Alice Eça Guimarães, the next talent on our list.

Alice Eça Guimarães

Co-directing with Santos, Guimarães impressed with the short films “Amélia & Duarte,” an Annecy competition player in 2015, and “Between the Shadows,” which received a French Academy César nomination in 2019. The duo utilized pixelation, a style of stop-motion in which real actors are used like intimate puppets, to great effect in both films. Guimarães is currently developing an animated series titled “For the Benefit of the State” and a new short titled “Because Today is Saturday,” about a woman trying to make time for herself that will be finished later this year.

João Gonzalez

João Gonzalez says he “has a great interest in combining his musical background with his artistic practice in animated cinema.” To that end, the multidisciplinary artist writes, directs, animates and composes the music for all of his films. Two years ago, his short film “Ice Merchants” impressed at Cannes Critics’ Week, where it won best short film. The following year, “Ice Merchants” received an animated short Academy Award, becoming the first Portuguese film in history to do so. Gonzalez is now working on his next short and will spend a year in Paris producing the project.

Maria Trigo Teixeira

Portugal-born Trigo now splits her time between Porto and Berlin, having studied animation at the prestigious Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf in the latter. In 2019, her graduation film “Inside Me” screened in competition at Annecy and later won the German Short Film Award for animation. In 2021, she was picked for the NEF Animation Residency in Fontevraud, where she started developing her new short, “It Shouldn’t Rain Tomorrow,” a story about a single mother who moves back to her childhood home for support only to find her own mother drifting away from her. The film will debut at this year’s Annecy on Tuesday, June 11. Trigo is currently in development with her next film, “Dog’s Best Friend.”

Diogo Costa

Costa is a true newcomer here and is currently in post-production at COLA Animation, on his debut short film, “The Hunt,” an eight-minute CG-animated horror piece. The film is being produced using a pipeline that Costa refers to as “Guerrilla Animation,” which he says -

allows “us to achieve an animated film that could rival major Hollywood productions, at a fraction of the cost.” To produce the film, Costa has recruited world-class indie talent from around the world, and the results are breathtaking. A brief trailer is available here. “The Hunt” will be finished this year and begin its festival run in the fall.

Vier Nev

Nev, a multidisciplinary artist, studied multimedia at ESMAD and VR at the London College of Communication UAL. A member of Portugal’s prolific Cola Animation artist cooperative, their VFX work can be seen on standout titles such as Sofia El Khyari’s 2022 Annecy player “L’Ombre des papillons” and João Gonzalez’s Oscar-nominated “Ice Merchants.” In their own work, Vier plays with light and shadow to create images that play with perception. Nev’s next film, “A Dança dos Fanchonos,” explores the perspectives of three queer people during a time when even talking about queerness was prohibited. It will be one of five project pitching in a Portuguese-dedicated session at this year’s MIFA.

Laura Gonçalves

Among the most accomplished filmmakers on our list, Gonçalves features in this year’s Annecy short film competition with “Percebes,” her latest collaboration with frequent collaborator Alexandra Ramires (who features on our list just below their join photo). With the sea and urban Algarve as the backdrop, the film follows a complete life cycle of a special shellfish called percebes, commonly referred to as the goose neck barnacle, a delicacy in Portugal and Galicia. Gonçalves’ previous film, “The Garbage Man,” on which Ramires served as an animator, screened in competition at Annecy and won best animation at Clermont-Ferrand and both the grand prize and audience awards at Zagreb. Gonçalves is currently working on her own original animated series, “Nameless Marias.”

Alexandra Ramires

Ramires’ 2020 solo short “Tie,” on which Gonçalves worked as an animator, screened in competition at Zagreb and the Toronto International Film Festival and won the Portuguese Film Academy Sophia Award for best animated short. While much of Ramires and Gonçalves’ work features grounded imagery thanks to real sets and human characters, “Tie” is made up of stark pencil drawings on black paper, creating a surreal aesthetic that fits well with the short’s more surreal imagery. Ramires is now developing her own series, “The Boy Eloy.” It’s noteworthy that several of the names on this list are moving into serialized productions, a trend worth tracking.

Miguel Lima

Lima teamed with Serbia-born but Porto-based artist Dimitri Mihajlovic on the haunting 2023 short “Almost Forgotten,” about a woman who explores the impermanence of childhood memories as she imagines herself wandering through her grandfather’s derelict house. The film was a local hit last year, scoring a Quirino Award nomination and winning the national competition at Cinanima and best animation at Caminhos do Cinema Português. The duo each attended the Faculty of Fine Arts in Lisbon, where Lima studied painting. Lima is now developing projects at BAP – Animation Studio, one of the most vibrant creative units in all of Portugal.

Francisco Magalhães

Magalhães is best known for his work as an animation supervisor on “Scavengers Reign,” the adult animation sci-fi series that was recently fumbled by Max and recovered by Netflix, where it has amassed a huge cult following. For most of the past year, he teamed again with that show’s producer, Green Street Pictures, on Joe Bennet and Steve Hely’s new series “Common Side Effects,” which will be spotlighted by Adult Swim during an Annecy panel on Wednesday. Magalhães wore several hats during production, starting as a storyboard artist before moving on to assistant direct one of the episodes. He also worked as an animator for several months. Magalhães is keeping busy but tells us his current project is being kept under wraps for now.

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