I met Jose Inesta in Annecy a while back - he's a really cool guy and a lover of animation. Last year, he invited me to his festival in Cuernavaca, Mexico, however, I had a scheduling conflict and I couldn't make it there. But my friends who did go came back raving about the event, so I said I'd love to come this time.
Cuernavaca is a large town about an hour and a half south of Mexico City. It's a beautiful place, full of palm trees and cute shops. The festival takes place in a five-star hotel, Las Mañanistas Casa Nueva. It's one of those large landscaped, protected hotels with walls all around. It seems like it's 20 acres wide, with parrots, peacocks and pink flamingos wandering everywhere, including the hallways. There is a giant spa and two large swimming pools, so you know I was happy.
The event wasn't just animation, it also included games and comics - there were thousands of students there to hear from such professionals as Jorge Gutiérrez ("The Book of Life"), Phil Tippett ("The Empire Strikes Back"), Mark Osborne ("Kung Fu Panda") and myself. The noble purpose of the 5-day festival is to build a culture and perhaps an industry for animation in Mexico.
My screenings were packed, standing room only, and the students were so interested in animation and the possibility of a career in it - their excitement was contagious. I also did a "coffee talk", where we took over a hotel dining room to discuss the business and art of animation more intimately.
I do hope this event becomes successful, because it's very important for the future of Mexican animation. Two of my favorite programs were talks given by Jorge Gutiérrez - he was born in Mexico City but now lives in Texas, and he talked about his career in TV cartoons, and his big success with "The Book of Life" - he was totally entertaining.
My good buddy, Mark Osborne, discussed the making of "Kung Fu Panda" for Dreamworks, and then he showed some amazing clips from his newest unreleased film, "The Little Prince" - it looked gorgeous.
So, if you're looking for a festival that has amazing guests, luxurious environments, awesome food and amazing audiences, then check out the Pixelatl Festival in Cuernavaca. I give it an "A".