Planet Preschool

My Dinner With Andre

Dear Readers, This week you’re in for a treat!  We sent one of our finest producers, Melanie Pal, down to Rio to attend Anima Mundi. Here is her report. I hope ...
July 21, 2009

Dear Readers,

This week you’re in for a treat!  We sent one of our finest producers, Melanie Pal, down to Rio to attend Anima Mundi. Here is her report. I hope you enjoy Melanie’s column as much as I did and I invite you to leave Melanie a comment!


I love to travel and see the world and, in my travels, I’ve learned one thing: I don’t like being a tourist. I mostly like to do what the locals do. So when I learned I’d been invited to Andre Breitman’s home for a dinner party on the opening night of Anima Mundi in Rio I thought I’d hit the jackpot!

Last Wednesday night, I arrived with the rest of the Anima Mundi Forum team to Andre’s beautiful apartment in the tree-lined bohemian neighborhood of Leblon. Over fresh fruit caipirinhas (Brazil’s unofficial national drink made with cachaça, a potent liquor derived from sugar cane), we met new friends and welcomed old friends while the delicious scent of a massive paella being prepared on the patio wafted over the party.

From my post near the caipirinha bar, I observed the scene: the room was filled with people from Brazil, Canada, Italy and the US speaking in their native tongues about food, music and culture but, mostly, animation. We were a collective comprised of people from all over the world, of varied ages and backgrounds, with one common bond: creating beautiful animated works.

This desire to make a difference was a common wish for most of the people I encountered at Anima Mundi. In her opening day speech, PBS’s Linda Simensky implored us all – everyone involved in creating shows for kids – to make things better; to do something different that will make a lasting impression. I really liked this.

I spent my week in Rio speaking with a whole host of very funny and creative animators, packagers, independent film producers and distributors all wanting the same thing. They forgave my misappropriated Portuguese pronouns and invited me to learn more about their world. They shared ideas and pitches and led me to wonder how it is possible to get anything done in a land of sunshine and sandy beaches where you will always find music and laughter, teeny bikinis and huge offerings of meat.

Some of the producers I met with knew more about how to make a great show than others. Some sought my advice as a foreigner, some as a producer and others just as a person who loves what she does for a living. I was pitched shows about legends, films based on books, CG animated series, stop motion shorts and, truth be told, soft-core porn. (P.S. – Animated Peeping Tom guy:  my specialty is PRESCHOOL!)

The truth is, I was excited to talk with all of these professionals about their work, their paixão (passion) and about their desire to hit the ground running in the burgeoning Brazilian animation scene.

Sure, Bob Esponja has made it BIG in Brazil,

But wouldn’t it be great for the Brazilians to see their own creations come to life on their screens as well as the world’s?

There are a few pioneers who are making a difference: Flamma’s Princesas do Mar, TV PinGuim’s Peixonauta and soon, 2DLab’s Meu Amigãozão. They are Brazilians partnering with international broadcasters and learning as they go. There is a whole country rooting for them and watching them pave the way.  Brazil is looking on and so am I.

Here I am. I find myself wanting to do what the locals do. I want to make the world of children’s TV better, make a lasting impression and enjoy a fresh coconut on the sands of Ipanema.

Obrigada Brasil, até logo!

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