Annecy: ‘Winnipeg, the Seed of Hope’ Set for Mifa Territory Focus

Winnipeg, the Seed of Hope,” the Quirino Awards winner of a special call for projects made by La Liga – a joint venture of Argentina’s Animation!, Mexico’s Pixelatl and Spain’s Quirinos – will form part of a La Liga Annecy showcase featuring a bevy of the most anticipated animation titles from Spain, Portugal and Latin America.

One of Annecy’s Mifa market territory focuses, the La Liga spread bows Wednesday, June 17, online for delegates at Annecy, the world’s biggest animation event.

Adapting a graphic novel by Spain’s Laura Martel, “Winnipeg, Neruda’s Ship,” the project was initially created by Toni Marín, an executive producer on Ignacio Ferreras’ Annecy special distinction winner “Wrinkles,” based out of Barcelona’s La Ballesta.

Chile’s El Otro Film, France’s Marmitafilms and Spain’s 3 Doubles Producciones have boarded the project.

Winnipeg, the Seed of Hope” tells a largely unknown true story — the odyssey of 2,200 Spanish refugees, mostly living in rudimentary camps in France, who sailed from France to Chile in September 1939, escaping from Spain where Francisco Franco’s dictatorship was consolidating its grip on the country after three years of devastating Civil War.

The refugees managed to flee on board an old French cargo ship, the SS Winnipeg, at the initiative of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and wife Delia del Carril.

“In such current tough times, this is a beautiful story of collaboration and humanity which is so necessary to remember,” said Marianne Mayer-Beckh, a producer on Pepa San Martín’s Generation Kplus International Jury winner “Rara.” She added: “I believe that the SS Winnipeg’s feat, transporting 2,400 ‘sons and daughters of Neruda,’ has not received the place in history it deserves; this project is a small contribution so that it will not be forgotten.”

Elio Quiroga (“The Cold Hour”) is attached to direct “Winnipeg, the Seed of Hope.” He explained that the story will adopt the point of view of 9-year Julia, a passenger on the boat, as she recalls the odyssey a an old woman.

Julia travels with her father to the new world. She uses a pencil and a notebook to understand the hostile world around her and as a means of defence. Drawings may play a key role in the animated feature, which mixes 2D and 3D.

“The purpose of the visual style is to capture the poetry in a child’s gaze a sense of a pure world that we should never lose. Hope, vivid dreams, magical reality, they are all the proof that human beings can work miracles,” said Quiroga.

Musical director and composer Diego Navarro (“The Photographer of Mauthausen,” “Capture the Flag”) and artistic and development manager Beñat Beitia (“Black is Beltza”) are attached to the project.

“This story talks about pain, loss and overcoming them. Above all, however, it speaks about empathy and hope, values more and more needed in today’s societies,” Marín added, saying that the story turns on “individual generosity beyond nationalities, and also institutional generosity, as shown by the presidents of Mexico, Chile and Spain [Lázaro Cárdenas, Pedro Aguirre Cerda and Juan Negrín, the last from his exile in France].”

“Winnipeg, the Seed of Hope” is scheduled for release in 2023.

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“Winnipeg” art concept/teaser poster Courtesy of La Ballesta