Animayo Gran Canaria, the largest animation festival based in Spain’s Canary Islands, ventures deep into the metaverse with experts in artificial intelligence, virtual reality and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) joining leading voices in the animation from major studios including DreamWorks, Walt Disney, Skydance, Sony Pictures and Platige Image.
Some 23 guests will take part in 14 master classes, three panel discussions, three workshops, 10 recruiting sessions and other events at the 17th in-person edition to be held May 4-7 in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.
An online edition is expected to launch in October. “This year, the debates are new because it is a must to create a forum for encounter in this increasingly polarized society,” said Damian Perea, founder-director of the festival, which also encompasses VFX and video games.
The festival’s impact on local production continues to grow as the Canary Islands now boasts at least 20 animation and visual effects companies, Perea said. Variety.
Other firsts for the Canary Islands and its festival include an augmented reality exhibition and NFT sales tied to the acclaimed 2D animated short “Amanece la Noche Larga”, with all proceeds going to fundraising to help Ukrainian refugees.
The festival trailer features highlights of more than 60 animated shorts from around 20 countries that will be participating in the festival. The winner of the international grand prize will have a chance to be shortlisted for Best Animated Short at the Oscars. Animayo remains the only festival in Spain designated as a ‘qualifying festival’ by the Academy for this category.
Animation luminaries include Claus Toksvig, Danish animation director, producer of the Oscar-nominated toon “Song of the Sea”; Disney Animation Studio’s Luis Labrador, one of the creators of Oscar-winning ‘Encanto’; Matt Tokarz, creator of visual effects on the famous “The Witcher” produced by Netflix; and Aurora Jiménez, a visual development artist at DreamWorks Animation with credits such as “The Bad Guys”, “Vivo”, “Hotel Transylvania 3”, and “The Emoji Movie”.
Among the tech guests are Yuan Yinzi, Ubisoft project manager and founding president of the Metaverse Summit in Paris; Edgar Martín-Blas, CEO and Creative Director of Virtual Voyagers, the Madrid pioneer of virtual, augmented and mixed reality; and Isidro Quintana, CEO of Triple O Games, Metaverse and Play2earn Experiences.
The festival will once again offer a scholarship program worth €500,000 ($528,000) for online and in-person study in Madrid and other major cities.
“I founded Animayo to give aspirants all the opportunities I never had when I started,” Perea said, adding, “That’s why the festival focuses on training, education, motivation and finally, helping people find a job thanks to our recruiters”.
“We are proud to celebrate life again and to unite all young people – and not so young – in person with the experts of this community and to give more opportunities to the next generation,” said Perea.
“Animayo is a luxury for Gran Canaria. It is a great international showcase for training and employment in the audiovisual sector,” confirmed Teodoro Sosa, Minister of the Presidency of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, one of the main sponsors of the annual event.