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Let’s Talk About Women in Animated Cinema

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Mexican filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro said at the 20th edition of the Morelia International Film Festival: “Animation is art. Animation is cinema. It is not a genre made for kids but a way that will allow us to speak of profound, painful, and beautiful things in a more adult way,” 

Del Toro’s new stop-motion animated film Pinocchio (2022) is coming out on Netflix in December. Among the cast, there are great actors like Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton, Cate Blanchett, and Finn Wolfhard. However, I’ve been waiting for this movie since Del Toro announced in 2020 that a significant part of the filming process would take place in Guadalajara, Mexico, allowing extraordinary Mexican female animators like Karla Castañeda, Sofía Carrillo, and Rita Basulto to showcase their talent globally (thanks to Netflix).

In this article, to prepare for the upcoming release of Pinocchio, I want to introduce you to these fantastic and talented Mexican women whose imagination, creativity, and work will be available to watch on Netflix very soon. 

Karla Castañeda

Karla is a Mexican stop-motion director and animator. Her two short films, Jacinta (2007) and La Noria (2012) have received national and international awards. Currently, she is finishing her third short film and writing her first feature film.

Karla recently joined Guillermo del Toro’s new National Animation Center (El Taller del Chucho), where she worked on the production design for Del Toro’s Pinocchio.

Her short films explore themes such as grief, death, and love. Karla’s visual style is unique, dark, and beautiful. All the details in her puppets are so realistic but simultaneously out of this world. My favorite of her short films is Jacinta, which tells the story of an old lady who dedicates  her days to one activity: knitting. 

You can enjoy both short films on YouTube. There is no need for subtitles since they are non-dialogue short films in which visuals convey more than a thousand words. 

Rita Basulto 

Rita is a Mexican stop-motion director and animator as well. She has received three Oscars and several Ariel awards for her animated short films Zimbo (2015), Lluvia en Los Ojos (2012), and El octavo día de la creación (2003). She recently released Eclosión (2019) and worked on the cinematography for Tío (2021). 

Her short films explore themes such as adventure and fantasy but with a darker tone.

On July 2, 2021, Rita announced on her Instagram account that she’s now a member of the AMPAS (Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences).

Rita is also an active collaborator of Outik Animation, a Mexican studio that has released a few stop-motion animated short films, such as Los Aeronautas (2016). You can watch most of their work on Vimeo for free. 

Sofía Carillo

Sofía is a Mexican stop-motion director, animator, producer, and photographer. Her short films have been presented and recognized by the world;Fuera de Control (2008), Prita Noire (2011), La Casa Triste (2013), and Cerulia (2017) have all been recognized in the category of Best Animated Short Film.

In 2020, her short film La Bruja del Fósforo Paseante (2018) was nominated in the Best Short Film category at the Ariel Awards (the equivalent of the Oscars, but in Mexican cinema). 

Sofía’s style and storytelling technique are, in my opinion, the best of the three female animators’ because she uses young female characters that could be perceived as childish to reflect profound topics. Her film Cerulia is one of my favorite stop-motion films. Cerulia talks about the pain of letting things go and how hard that can be, no matter your   age. It is disturbing, adventurous, and beautiful. 

You can watch Cerulia on YouTube for free. There are a few parts of the short film in Spanish, but you can still enjoy the great art and visuals behind this film. 

I hope you find some time to watch the fantastic work of these animators. I promise you won’t regret it. Many people don’t know this, but stop-motion animation is getting bigger and bigger in Mexico. Our talented animators deserve more recognition, but this is just the beginning, and I’m excited to see what else happens in the upcoming years. 

Montse Pineda

UWindsor '25

Montse is an international student from Mexico. She is a film production student at UWindsor. She enjoys watching movies, getting to know female directors, and talk about the film industry in general. In her free time, she enjoys creating and sharing her art with others.