Animation, AWN.com, Directors, Interviews

Brazilian Animation: Ennio Torresan Returns to His Roots

June 3, 2018

Twenty-five years since leaving his native country of Brazil, DreamWorks Animation head of story Ennio Torresan is actively pursuing projects with a Brazilian flavor.


The Brazilian national football team is invariably one of the best in the world, yet the majority of its most gifted players play their club football overseas, where the opportunities are more numerous, the quality of football is higher and the pay is better. It’s a similar story in animation. Over the past decade Brazil’s animation industry has produced award-winning films, seen a dramatic increase in production volume, and will be recognized by the world’s leading animation showcase, as Annecy’s country of honor in 2018. Still, many of its artists, like its football stars, feel compelled to pursue their careers abroad.

Naturally, Hollywood is a major draw, and over the years many Brazilian artists have gone on to establish themselves in key roles at the biggest studios. Perhaps the most prominent among them is Blue Sky’s Carlos Saldanha, director of multiple Ice Age and Rio films, and the recently Oscar-nominated Ferdinand. Some have been in LA since the late-1990s, like Renato dos Anjos, who was recently Head of Animation on Disney’s Zootopia and Wreck-It Ralph 2, and Fabio Lignini, who supervised animation on How to Train Your Dragon 1 and 2. Then there are rising stars like Leo Matsuda, a story artist on Big Hero 6 and Frozen 2 and director of Oscar-shortlisted short Inner Workings, and 3D virtuosos like Victor Hugo and Pedro Conti.

Ennio Torresan is a senior statesman among the Brazilian contingent. He is currently Head of Story at DreamWorks Animation where, since 2002, his credits include the Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda franchises, Megamind, Boss Baby and the upcoming Abominable (formerly known as Everest). Back in 1986, as a fresh graduate, Torresan knew the only realistic professional path lay outside of Brazil. In 1993, pencil tests for his hand-drawn short El Macho earned him work in London painting backgrounds at Steven Spielberg’s Amblimation. Turner Feature Animation called two years later, and Torresan moved to Hollywood as a layout artist on musical comedy Cat’s Don’t Dance. Annecy selected El Macho in 1995, prompting HBO to invite him to produce two pilots for a TV show based on the concept. Though the project stalled, the films caught the attention of Stephen Hillenburg who hired Torresan as a story artist for the first season of SpongeBob SquarePants.

Today, 25 years since leaving Brazil, eager to return to his roots and encouraged by the burgeoning domestic industry, Torresan is actively pursuing projects with a Brazilian flavor. In 2013 he co-directed 2D feature Until Sbornia Do Us Apart, based on musical Tangos & Tragédias, and is currently developing a slate of movies, including adult-skewing The Wrath of God and Proto-Man, and family oriented Copacabana 1920 and Fofa 3000. Ahead of Annecy’s tribute, Torresan took AWN through his journey from Rio to Los Angeles, and the characteristics that have helped propel Brazilian artists to the top of the world.

Full article at AWN.com here.

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